Last Saturday, Designer of the Year recipient Raymond Woo shared his journey as an architect in a cosy session at the library@orchard in Orchard Gateway. The event was packed out by design enthusiasts, architects and design students.
The 78-year-old’s jovial personality and playful sense of humour came through as he walked everyone through the highlights of his illustrious four-decade-long career as one of Singapore’s veteran architects, touching on well-loved projects like Singapore Science Centre, Loyang Valley Apartments, Ngee Ann City and many other buildings in the CDB area.
During the talk, Raymond told his audience that he has always preferred his designs to speak for themselves. As an architect, it makes him happy to know that his buildings have been well-received and patronised. He candidly shared that people are starting to ask him, when will he 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.
After more than four decades in the business, Raymond strongly believes being an architect is solely possible with passion. “If I didn’t have the passion, frankly speaking I wouldn’t be able to last 48 years. 48 years is 500 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 tidbits 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 new-age approach to the design, which was intended to interest the youths of the 1980s in science. He also showed rare early photos of the B747 aircraft hangar he built for SIA, the largest column-free hangar that could house three planes wingtip-to-wingtip. His revelations about the behind-the-scenes moments in building Ngee Ann City elicited gasps of surprise from the audience – especially when he told everyone about site being an old graveyard, as well as how the iconic Civic Plaza was nearly converted into shops!
The talk ended with a light-hearted Q & A segment that 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 – a surprise for the usually quiet and low-key architect!
PDA 2016 x library@orchard Exhibition