Rosewood Yangon occupies the former New Law Courts, located at the junction of the city’s famous Strand and Sule Pagoda Roads facing the north bank of Yangon River. A Scottish architect, Thomas Oliphant Foster, designed the building, which was constructed between 1927 to 1931.
The city’s district and local courts functioned here up until the Japanese occupation of Yangon during World War II. Following Myanmar’s independence in 1948, the building was used variously as the Police Commissioner’s office, Parliament’s Chamber of Nationalities and the headquarters of the Burmese Socialist Programme Party.
The supportive core of the monumental building is a massive 3,000-ton steel frame, manufactured in England by Dorman Long, an engineering company which contributed to several notable construction projects in the British Empire, including the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and the railways of India. The company’s name can be seen stamped onto exposed girders inside the building today.
One of the most striking features of the exterior is a dramatic row of Ionic columns, three stories high, which stand above a single-story colonnade facing Strand Road on the Yangon riverfront. Prominent architectural interior features include two inner courtyards, the grand main stairs, and the double-height hall on the fourth floor, now the Heritage Salon. The building was one of the first in Yangon to be equipped with an elevator. The original bronze doors have been retained, along with other bronze fixtures and the original teak handrails.
Before recent reconstruction started, the Yangon Heritage Trust carried out an archaeological survey in the large central courtyard, where the ground was protected from ongoing construction projects in the neighborhood over the last 150 years. The survey discovered artifacts, including tools and ceramics, dating back to local village life in the 17th century, as well as the foundations of an earlier building thought to be from the 15th century.