Forum: Recognise contributions of local building professionals

Visitors take photographs at the Rain Vortex at Jewel Changi in Singapore on Oct 30, 2019.
Visitors take photographs at the Rain Vortex at Jewel Changi in Singapore on Oct 30, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

I would like to offer my perspective to the letter by architect Teo Yee Chin (Recognise work of local architects and designers, Jan 9).

I have been involved in the construction and development industry for more than four decades, first as a government engineer before heading an engineering contracting firm and, subsequently, a real estate group.

I now chair Surbana Jurong, a multidisciplinary consultancy group of architects, engineers and other development professionals.

Hence, I understand and appreciate clearly the contributions of various parties involved in the value chains within the construction and development industry.

The success of a project is highly dependent on the entrepreneurship and investment of the developer and the collective efforts of all - from the architects and engineers to the project managers and supervisors, as well as the contractor and his workers and suppliers.

Regrettably, the building professionals behind high-profile projects, more often than not, are omitted in project publicity.

For example, developers' sales and marketing promotion executives often do not know the names of design architects, let alone those of engineers and contractors.

The exceptions are when world-renowned architects are engaged, but those are usually put forth for marketing reasons.

I agree with Mr Teo that we should acknowledge the contributions of local architects, engineers and other supporting building professionals. Perhaps they could be mentioned in the project literature used at launches and in forums.

Mr Teo also highlighted the attention that foreign high-profile architects receive when they complete mega projects such as Jewel Changi Airport.

As the chair of Changi Airport Group, one of the owners of Jewel Changi Airport, I appreciate his point, and hope to see more interest in the local professionals responsible for the project and other iconic developments in Singapore.

On my part, I have always ensured that the team of consultant architects, designers, engineers, project managers and contractors are present at public events like the topping-up ceremony or opening ceremony for major projects.

Not only does this give due recognition to all involved, but it also demonstrates the incredible collaboration and teamwork required.

The stage is large enough for everyone involved.

Liew Mun Leong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2020, with the headline 'Recognise contributions of local building professionals'. Print Edition | Subscribe