Engineer wins Designer of the Year award

From far left: Architect Raymond Woo, design engineer Hossein Rezai, and architect Rene Tan received the Designer of the Year awards at the President's Design Award last night. Dr Rezai is a chartered civil and structural engineer who works closely w
From far left: Architect Raymond Woo, design engineer Hossein Rezai, and architect Rene Tan received the Designer of the Year awards at the President's Design Award last night. Dr Rezai is a chartered civil and structural engineer who works closely with architects to realise their visions.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

'Dream collaborator' Hossein Rezai first engineer to win award along with architects Raymond Woo and Rene Tan

It is not a profession often regarded as creative, but an engineer won Singapore's highest design accolade last night.

He is Teheran-born Dr Hossein Rezai, the first person to win the Designer of the Year title at the annual President's Design Award for excellence in engineering design.

The 60-year-old is not an ordinary designer, but he is no ordinary engineer either. He is a chartered civil and structural engineer who works closely with architects to realise their visions. His collaborators attest to how crucial his involvement is in the early stages of the design process, as he often gives ideas on how to improve existing plans.

In Singapore, he has worked on projects such as Tokio Marine Centre in McCallum Street and the Assyafaah Mosque in Admiralty.

In its citation, the jury wrote: "(Dr Rezai) has been described as a dream collaborator by architects. His knowledge of building materials and engineering design principles ensures the most sustainable, productive and optimised solutions that stretch the boundaries of conventional engineering design."

Dr Rezai, who founded international design engineering consultancy Web Structures in 1996, said of his win: "I am humbled to be given the honour. Looking at the achievements of this year's and past recipients, it is fantastic company to be in."

In its 11th year, the President's Design Award recognises the best of Singapore design across fields such as architecture, fashion, landscape architecture and advertising.

Besides Dr Rezai, other previous "left-field" recipients of the Designer of the Year award included Mr Harijanto Setiawan, who was the first florist to win in 2013.

This year, two other candidates also received the award. They are architects Raymond Woo, 77, of Raymond Woo & Associates Architects, best known for designing the spaceship-like Singapore Science Centre and the mammoth complex Ngee Ann City; and Malaysian-born Rene Tan, 52, of RT+Q Architects, who is known for his conceptual residential projects.

They received their trophies from President Tony Tan Keng Yam at a ceremony at the Istana.

A second category of awards, Design of the Year, honours projects and products that have national significance and add creative value.

The 10 winning designs this year include a factory building in Seletar Aerospace Park, two Housing Board projects and a washing machine that allows users to add clothes mid-cycle.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2016, with the headline 'Engineer wins Designer of the Year award'. Print Edition | Subscribe