Last Saturday, President’s Design Award Designer of the Year Mr Raymond Woo took a trip down memory lane at the Library@orchard. The talk was packed out by design enthusiasts, architects and design students.
The 77-year-old’s jovial personality and playful sense of humour came through during this session. Raymond walked everyone through the highlights of his illustrious four-decade career as one of Singapore’s veteran architects, which includes well-loved buildings like Singapore Science Centre, Loyang Apartments, Ngee Ann City and many other buildings in the CBD area.
During the talk, Raymond spoke about his preferences for his designs to speak for themselves. As an architect, it makes him happy to know that his projects are well-received and patronised. He candidly shared that people are starting to ask him, “when will you retire?” “I say, I will retire the moment I stop thinking, I stop talking, I stop designing. That will happen one day. But for now, I’m still alive!” quipped the grandfather of four.
If I didn’t have the passion, I wouldn’t be able to last 48 years. 500 plus months of paying salaries, engaging people, people leaving me after I train them… and after that, you have to start all over again!
After 48 years in architecture, Raymond strongly believes that passion is what is most needed as an architect. “If I didn’t have the passion, frankly speaking, I wouldn’t be able to last 48 years. 48 years is 500 plus months of paying salaries, engaging people, people leaving me after I train them… and after that, you have to start all over again!”
The talk revealed fascinating anecdotes about some of Raymond’s early work. Speaking on the competition that he won to design and build the Singapore Science Centre, Raymond showed his early drawings (all done in pencil!) and described his approach to the design that was way ahead of its time, which was intended to interest the youths of the 1980s in science. He also showed rare early photos of the B747 Hangar he built for Singapore Airlines, the largest column-free hangar that can accommodate three planes wingtip-to-wingtip. He spoke of behind-the-scenes moments in the building of Ngee Ann City which elicited gasps of surprise from the audience – especially when he revealed the site was an old graveyard, as well as how the Civic Plaza was nearly converted into shops!
The talk ended with a light-hearted Q & A segment which members of the audience enthusiastically participated in, asking in depth questions about his various projects. PDA 2016 publications were distributed to all who participated in the Q & A. A number of admirers stayed back to chat, and even sought his autograph. This was indeed a pleasant surprise for the usually low-key architect!
The President’s Design Award 2016 exhibition moves to Library@orchard, till 1 Oct. View the exhibited works of the 10 ‘Designs of the Year’ and 3 ‘Designers of the Year’.