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Old May 29th, 2006, 05:10 PM   #41
babystan03
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29 May 2006 2113 hrs

Singapore hotels see Sands opening as boon for business
By Dominique Loh, Channel NewsAsia

SINGAPORE : Downtown hotels are seeing the awarding of Singapore's first integrated resort project to Sands of Las Vegas as an opportunity rather than as competition.

Gerhard Kropp is overseeing a makeover at his hotel in Orchard Road.

He wants to get the Meritus Mandarin shipshape for the upcoming IMF and World Bank annual meetings in September.

But setting his sights further, three years down the road, he doesn't see opening of the Sands at Marina Bay as too much of a challenge.

Said Mr Kropp, general manager, Meritus Mandarin, "I believe with the STB target is setting to more than double the present visitors to Singapore, I think 2,500 rooms will not pose a threat to our existing inventory here in Singapore."

Right now, you can expect to pay about S$700 for a high-end room; in a year or two, expect to pay even more.

Hotel rates are rising.

In the last year or so they jumped between 15 and 18 percent and will perhaps rise another 6 to 7 percent next year.

Rather than flooding the market, industry players expect occupancy and room rates at downtown hotels to go even higher when Sands opens in 2009, thanks to a spill-over effect.

Said Mr Kropp, "It will be beneficial to everybody. I believe not every visitor to Singapore will now stay at Sands ... They may opt to stay with us at Orchard, and go once in a while to the casino and gamble and look at the facilities there and come back, spend money at our hotel and Orchard Road."

Shops and F&B outlets around town are also looking forward to higher traffic.

The conventions and exhibition space planned for Sands at Marina Bay may be vast, catering to 4,000 to 5,000 at a time.

Even so, Sands won't be able to cater to everyone -- and this is where the other existing hotels in the downtown area come in. - CNA /ct

Copyright © 2006 MCN International Pte Ltd
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Old May 30th, 2006, 01:15 PM   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nicholasliha
We don't have to love it just cos we're stuck with it. If Singaporeans learned to resent the decisions made by their elitist government just a bit more (recent articles have reflected govt opinions that Singaporean "laymen" were unqualified to vote on their new casino), maybe one day we will finally get our vote against the UFOs and durians that the government keeps selling us out on.

Maybe its just cos we've learnt to to censor ourselves from opposition too much. Am i the only one who hasn't gotten over the UFO with flayed human skin for a Civil Court and the durian Concert hall and the Nuclear Silo Casino... I want our initiative on Architectural and Urban Design Excellence (AUDE) to translate into better architecture already.
My comment wasn't meant to be intepreted in that manner but since it was........okay......that's another perspective to look at it from............

Don't know if this has been posted before but: Las Vegas Sands expects its Marina Bay Sands Project to break even in 5 years.
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Old May 31st, 2006, 07:12 PM   #43
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I hate the design!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Was expecting Harrah's to win.


So 1970s sci-fi.
Like to see KPF and Libeskind's designs. Sure they're more aesthetically pleasing than this 1970s monolith.
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Old June 1st, 2006, 05:00 AM   #44
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^Didn't you say that already??
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Old June 1st, 2006, 05:04 AM   #45
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I think I quite like it from the renderings. Stucture is way daring and sure emerging to be a new world's landmark.
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Old June 1st, 2006, 05:23 AM   #46
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31 May 2006

At least 9 banks bid to lend money for Singapore's first integrated resort
By Wong Choon Mei, Channel NewsAsia

SINGAPORE: Banks are queueing up to give Las Vegas Sands money to build Singapore's first integrated resort.

Already, at least nine banks are offering to provide it with an initial S$1.5b loan.

This is to pay the Singapore Government a deposit by the end of August.

At a total cost of S$5b, Marina Bay Sands is the most expensive development of its kind in the world.

As well as gaming, come 2009, the resort will boast huge hotels, shops and an arts and science museum as well as 110,000 square metres of convention space.

That is about the size of 2 large football stadiums.

And there is no shortage of banks trying to get to the table, with Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Lehman Brothers, Barclays and Bank of Nova Scotia all competing.

They can see the attraction.

Singapore wants to go up-market in its tourism drive, targeting more the lucrative meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions segment, popularly know as MICE.

"For Singapore, the MICE gives them a possible area to compete effectively, not just on price but in terms of infrastructure and security and other more intangible benefits that Singapore can offer. Think of it more like a tennis or golf circuit. We need it to offer an alternative, a credible and large facility to try and maintain some of the convention business in Asia," said Kevin Scully, Managing Director of NetResearch Asia.

Already, about 1 visitor in every 4 comes to Singapore to attend either a business meeting, convention or exhibition, with more 5,000 events a year.

Sands has already promised to pull in an additional 20 annual exhibitions and at least 350 business meetings each year.

"One of our primary reasons why we think we've won is our position in the MICE business. We know that the MICE business is something that is very important for Singapore. It has been very important for us for decades generally," said William Weidner, President of Las Vegas Sands.

According to analysts, Singapore has to do more to cater for this lucrative segment or risk losing out to rivals Hong Kong and Shanghai.

In particular, it is keen to attract events relating to IT, biomedical sciences, banking and finance to support its broader economy.

Rolling out soon are CommunicAsia in June, MICE Asia in July, Forbes CEO Conference and the IMF-World Bank annual meetings in September.

According to Aloysius Arlando, Assistant Chief Executive of the business travel and MICE division at the Singapore Toursim Board, his agency will aggressively bid for business events and aim to leverage on the nation's economic base. - CNA /dt

Copyright © 2006 MCN International Pte Ltd
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Old June 1st, 2006, 01:21 PM   #47
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Business Times - 01 Jun 2006

Construction boom expected from IR project

Sands will have 3 to 5 main contractors who will farm out work to local firms

By CONRAD TAN

THE eyes of construction company executives are now turning hungrily to the contracts expected to pour forth from Sands' $5 billion Marina Bay Sands integrated resort (IR).

Construction work on Singapore's biggest-ever project is expected to start before the end of the year. Details are still sketchy, but William Weidner, president of winning bidder Las Vegas Sands, who was in Singapore earlier this week to launch the project and introduce his team, indicated that there could be three to five main contracts supervised directly by Sands. These contractors will in turn farm out work to local sub-contractors.

Excluding the fixed land price of $1.2 billion, the development cost of the entire resort and casino has been estimated at a cool $3.85 billion.

The sheer size of the project for Singapore's first integrated resort and casino - with a total gross floor area equivalent to over 70 football fields - means that local contractors are likely to be closely involved with the actual construction of the building complex. They will have to work fast, as the resort is due to open by 2009.

The contracts should prove a welcome boost to the recovering construction industry here. The Marina Bay IR is set to form a significant chunk of the $12 billion to $13.5 billion worth of construction contracts expected to be awarded to local firms this year, up from the $11.3 billion awarded last year. Work on the second IR at Sentosa, which is still open for bidding, is unlikely to start before next year, but is also expected to bolster the construction sector in coming years.

The Building and Construction Authority has projected annual construction orders of $13 to $15 billion for the next five years, supported by major developments such as the IRs and the rejuvenation of the Orchard Road shopping belt.

Sands already runs the Sands Macau casino in China as well as its main casino resort, The Venetian, in Las Vegas. It is now developing a second, much larger casino resort in Macau and building an extension, known as The Palazzo, to its Las Vegas resort.

Of the Marina Bay Sands resort, Mr Weidner said at a press conference on Tuesday: 'We will probably GC (general contract) the project ourselves. We will probably have three or four main contractors that report essentially to us because that's our expertise - we build big buildings like this.

'For example, The Palazzo that we're building now in Las Vegas is about two million square feet larger than (the Marina Bay IR) and we're our own general contractor.

'We have a major concrete contract, we have a major steel-installing contract . . . so you've got four or five main contracts but we supervise the main contracts, then the (sub-contracts) come in under those.'

Local contractors eager to get their hands on some of the lucrative contracts will have to wait just a while more. Mr Weidner and his team will be meeting other Sands executives in Las Vegas on Monday to thrash out details of the design, before construction can begin. But Mr Weidner stressed that there would be no unnecessary delay, saying: 'We are trying to find ways to get on to the site as soon as we can.'

Yesterday, construction sector stocks remained generally flat, with three gainers, nine losers, and 28 unchanged.

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Old June 1st, 2006, 03:47 PM   #48
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01 June 2006

More international watersports events at Marina Bay when IR is completed

By Pearl Forss, Channel NewsAsia

SINGAPORE: Las Vegas Sands has won the Marina Bay integrated resort bid and among it's plans - spending millions of dollars on water activities in the area to make it a premier place for water sports in the world.

At the same time, organisers of the Singapore WaterFest have given themselves 5 years to grow the event at Marina Bay into an international attraction.

Wakeboarding, sailing, windsurfing are just some of the activities Singaporeans and tourists can try out once the Marina Barrage is completed in 2007.

With the Integrated Resort to be ready in 2009, watersports enthusiasts feel it will be an even greater boost to watersports in Singapore.

"It's a good starting point where we can stage a good number of water related sports on this water body itself. With local participation and with the kind of international activities that we can bring to bear, I'm sure it will attract a lot of tourism," said Low Teo Ping, Chairman of the Water Sports Working Group, Singapore Sports Council.

Las Vegas Sands told Channel NewsAsia it intends to spend millions of dollars on water activities to draw international tourists.

"We have already begun the process of discussing with government what their programmes are, we will participate in those programmes in terms of how our facilities integrate with it, and then we'll look for gaps in those programmes where we'll sponsor things ourselves," said William P Weidner, President and COO of Las Vegas Sands.

Some of the international water sports events that Singapore currently hosts include the F1 Powerboat Race, the Wakebord World Cup and the World Water Ski Championships.

With the IR, the Singapore Sports Council is confident of attracting even more renowned international water sports attractions such as the World Windsurfing Championships and Match Racing which will all contribute to Singapore's aim of becoming Asia's watersports hub.

The Water Sports Working Group has said plans for watersports in the Marina Barrage area could be constrained by crafts such as the Singapore Jet Boat and River Taxis.

"My hope is that they will limit commercial traffic on this water body. A lot of these commercial crafts that you have on this water are motor powered and driven by propellers, because there is a certain weight related to these crafts, they create a certain wake effect and a wake effect would then create turbulence within the water and that is not good for body powered sporting activities," added Mr Low.

The Water Sports Working Group also said they plan to grow the annual WaterFest, which started in 2005, into an international sports event. - CNA /dt

Copyright © 2006 MCN International Pte Ltd
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Old June 2nd, 2006, 07:23 PM   #49
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Sweet jesus! It looks so Star Warsy. I love it! I love it! Wow! Is this real *pinches self* WOW!
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Old June 4th, 2006, 02:32 PM   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zach24
im sorry but this is very tacky
a city needs more than a casino to attract business

it reminds me of the Simpson's episode when Mr Burns built a casino in Springfield

OMG god please - the Sands concept is ******* hot. It makes the Sydney casino look like a toilet block. It might not be pure style but it works well with singpore and mirrors the bug-like domes across the bay. The design is modern, midly tacky (not so by vegas standards) but it is nice it be a little flamboyant - Singapore is so generic and boring now - it needs this to stir the pot a little.

If only the sands had been invited to build Sydney's casino ours is the worlds worse dogs vomit. Rest assured my friend in singapore if this is the calibre of what you are getting you should be very happy.
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Old June 4th, 2006, 02:41 PM   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avatar
OMG god please - the Sands concept is ******* hot. It makes the Sydney casino look like a toilet block. It might not be pure style but it works well with singpore and mirrors the bug-like domes across the bay. The design is modern, midly tacky (not so by vegas standards) but it is nice it be a little flamboyant - Singapore is so generic and boring now - it needs this to stir the pot a little.

If only the sands had been invited to build Sydney's casino ours is the worlds worse dogs vomit. Rest assured my friend in singapore if this is the calibre of what you are getting you should be very happy.
some feedback from the public includes references to nuclear silos and ancestral tablets. Feng Shui Masters hate it.
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Old June 4th, 2006, 04:15 PM   #52
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Marina Bay integrated resort's design features are the talk of the town

ARCHITECTS love it. Fengshui masters think it is a disaster.
Love it or hate it, the design of the Marina Bay integrated resort is a talking point - especially the 50-storey-high sky park.

The 1ha sky park, larger than two football fields, is one of the most prominent features of the $5 billion resort, which Las Vegas Sands won the bid to build.


Linking the tops of three 50-storey hotel towers, the park overlooks the museum, retail and convention spaces and boasts a 360-degree view of the city and the Singapore Strait.

'I think the sky garden could become something iconic and a first in the world,' said Dr Erwin Viray, assistant professor at the National University of Singapore's department of architecture.

Architect Goh Chong Chia, managing director of TSP Architects and Planners, is equally excited. 'Roof gardens have been created before but not on this sort of scale. It's like lifting the ground to a whole new level.'

United States-based architect Moshe Safdie designed the resort. He said the greenery at the summit fits Singapore's image as a 'garden city'.

The Sands also consulted a fengshui master, but said he was out of town and could not be contacted for comment.

But those The Sunday Times interviewed were not enthusiastic about the design.

Geomancer Victor Li, who has worked with The Raffles Hotel and The Grand Hyatt Singapore, said: 'On their own, the three tall buildings look like three ancestral tablets and, with the sky garden, it looks like a broken flyover, with 'neither head nor tail'.'

He said the Mandarin phrase 'neither head nor tail' has a negative connotation, usually used to describe things that are incomplete and imperfect.

The flatness of the rooftop is another problem.

Master Tan Khoon Yong of Way Onnet Group said it resembles a blade that will affect all buildings surrounding the IR, especially the Swissotel Stamford.

'Also, because the rooftop is flat, it restricts the development and growth for the IR,' he said.

While geomancer Adelina Pang has no problem with the flat roof, she warned that the garden should not have ponds or water features, because this would symbolise a drowning building.

Out of the 40 people interviewed by The Sunday Times yesterday, 22 were impressed by the design, while 18 disliked it.

Ms Loke Mei En, 33, a hedge fund manager, said: 'It looks embarrassing. The design is haphazardly put together. It's an aberration on our waterfront.'

Others liken the towers to 'joss-sticks' and a 'glorified factory'.

But the overall layout has won many fans. The architects say the placement of public spaces in front and private quarters at the back facilitates the flow of people and makes 'urban design sense', while geomancer Gwee Kim Woon says the buildings are positioned in a shape of a bat.

The Mandarin word for 'bat' sounds similar to the Mandarin word for luck, so bats are often associated with luck.

As for the lotus-shaped Art- Science museum, people from both camps supported the idea of a bloom along the waterfront.

Architect John Ting said: 'To us in Asia, the lotus is providential and if you know how to capitalise on the concept of a lotus, it can be iconic.'

But architect Tay Kheng Soon feels the project might be too striking for its own good. 'Because it is so outstanding, it is likely to be mistaken as the icon of Singapore. No self-respecting city has a casino as its icon.'
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Old June 4th, 2006, 05:21 PM   #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nicholasliha
some feedback from the public includes references to nuclear silos and ancestral tablets. Feng Shui Masters hate it.
The public feedback is roughly split 50:50, with a slight majority favouring it, if you were referring to today's article.

As for me, its growing on me
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Old June 6th, 2006, 02:24 PM   #54
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: 06 June 2006

Singapore's integrated resorts to begin hiring in 2007
By Ng Bao Ying, Channel NewsAsia

The casinos in Singapore's integrated resorts are expected to start hiring in late 2007.

And with the regional industry-wide labour shortage, Singaporeans angling for a job in these casinos will be in a good position, say industry experts.

So how can Singaporeans cash in their chips?

With Singapore's limited experience in casinos, hiring for the integrated resort projects may begin as early as next year so that there will be enough time to train staff before the actual opening.

Ramachandar Siva, Director - Operations, International Club Games Training Centre, said: "The need to hire early is because in Singapore you never had a casino culture. Working in a casino is a different work ethic and a different work culture completely. Casinos need to spend a lot of time to bring them up to mark to ensure the service provided, when opened, is up to expectations."

But they can expect a crunch come hiring season, because of the regional industry-wide labour shortage.

Ramachandar Siva said: "Now that the explosion is happening a lot of casinos are opening up all over the region especially like Macau, Singapore, and some other countries, there's a shortage of manpower. So demand is huge in this area throughout the Southeast Asian region."

With their start up, the International Club Games Training Centre is placing a $1 million bet that the shortage will work in their favour.

And demand has been good, with some 150 potential student consultations set up over the past two days.

Ramachandar Siva said: "Casinos offer a solid job security because they don't close down overnight. Based on the salaries paid in Macau, we start with a salary of about $2,500 to $2,700 for entry level position, which is a croupier. In Singapore, I do expect the same salaries to be paid by the operators here.

"This gives an opportunity for those who are not qualified with paper degree or a masters to earn that kind of salary that are offered to degree holders. So if you are a bit disadvantaged because you did not continue with education, this is an excellent opportunity to get a job in the casino industry. And earn that kind of salary and a good career movement up the ladders and solid job security."

The company expects returns of about 15 per cent for the first year, and 18 per cent thereafter.

It aims to become a key provider of human resource training for operators in the region, and will continue expanding with more courses and even software development. - CNA/ch

Copyright © 2006 MCN International Pte Ltd
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Old June 10th, 2006, 05:57 PM   #55
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The city-gallery at URA Centre (first floor exhibit) has been updated with the model of the Marina Bay Sands IR.

1.


2.


3.


4.
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Old June 10th, 2006, 05:58 PM   #56
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How it looks in the city:

1.


2.


3.
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Old June 11th, 2006, 11:22 PM   #57
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Gotta prepare to burn all my money there
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Old June 12th, 2006, 08:00 AM   #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RafflesCity
How it looks in the city:

1.
it looks quite small...
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Old June 12th, 2006, 04:59 PM   #59
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May look small...but not if you consider the overall footprint...

they look like 3 slices of 'kueh lapis'

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Old June 18th, 2006, 05:13 PM   #60
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Habitats of humanity

13 Jun 06

Wunderkind architect Moshe Safdie, whose works are known for their social streak, thinks his Marina Bay Sands resort may just replace Orchard Road

THE current kerfuffle here over the fengshui aspects of Singapore's first integrated resort is apparently not fazing its creator Moshe Safdie one bit.

On the phone with Life! from his Boston office last Friday, Mr Safdie, 68, says lightly: 'Controversy is good because it means the people are engaged in the design.

'We will never get 100 per cent contentious views, just as we will never get 100 per cent agreement,' says the architect whose famous landmarks include his staggered Habitat high-density projects worldwide.



Last month, the Government announced that the Marina Bay integrated resort bid had been won by American casino-resort giant Las Vegas Sands.

Mr Safdie's winning design for Sands features three 50-storey towers linked by a skypark which overlooks three domes housing shopping and convention centres.

The $5 billion project has got some geomancers here in a tizzy. They say the towers are like ancestral tablets; the skypark is like a broken flyover, suggesting imperfection; and the towers' flat roof is like a blade, suggesting restricted growth. Some Singaporeans have also griped about how the three towers resemble joss sticks and glorified factories.

Asked to comment on the controversy last week, the Israeli-born Mr Safdie is careful to stress that he had consulted a Singaporean geomancer, Mr Chong Swan Lek, before his design for the Marina Bay Sands 'was fully cooked'.

Whether it was deciding where to put entrances or debating corners versus sides, he fielded fengshui issues all the way through to the winning design, he says.

So, for starters, how is it that he came to design a flat, blade-like top as the resort's 1ha skypark?

Look closer, he tells you, and the skypark is not actually flat. 'There is some modulation, with arcades, lookouts and projections up and down. These were very positively considered.'

He is fully aware of the fengshui uproar, having just come from a week of discussions with Las Vegas Sands.

As to critics' concern that the three towers look too much like ancestral tablets, he points out that all actually curve inwards.

Ask him why, and he clears his throat, then says: 'Because if the towers were straight up, that would be too pompous. It would be too much about power, and not enough about humanity.'

Ah, yes, humanity. With him, that word comes with a capital H, as it is the golden rod running through all he thinks and does.

As he puts it: 'Architecture is a social art. We have an agenda to meet in the kind of spaces for human interaction - how it fits into place with the climate and culture, whether it's buildings in Singapore, Jerusalem or India.'

It would follow, then, that he does not seem the sort to discount fengshui concerns willy-nilly.

Indeed, he says: 'It doesn't matter if I buy into all this or not. But I had to sense truly if this is what people could accept. I took it very seriously.'

As for the beach-level art and science museum which he has designed to look like a lotus, he says: 'Everyone was speaking from day one about icon, icon, icon.

'Someone said it should be the Sydney Opera House for Singapore.'

So he hit upon a blossom motif for the museum, which he says folks have since interpreted either as 'a palm signifying welcome' or a providential flower.

'Those people include our fengshui advisor,' he says, adding that what went down especially well with Mr Chong was his idea to collect rainwater on the museum's roof and channel it into a waterfall. 'All that lotus and water symbolism is considered good,' he points out.


Architecture is not art

STILL, there were limits to how far Mr Safdie would go along with this 'icon, icon, icon' predilection.

Even as he busied himself in his Boston office arranging and re-arranging his Lego-like blocks which represent the proposed buildings on the 6 million sq ft site, he kept asking himself how he could build tall buildings which would be 'sort of more humane, habitable and less overbearing'.

Noting that an earlier design by another architect for the site had skyscrapers hugging the coastline, thus cancelling out much of the resort's beachfront potential, he asserts: 'I'm opposed to making just a sculpture. Many buildings are just sculptures, all these twisted things.'

What's so wrong about that? He presses on: 'We cannot create faces for shapes, faces which are capricious. We need to create spaces.

'Architecture is not about art sculptures because artists are not answerable to anyone and can use whatever form they like without having to meet a demanding list of requirements.'

While all that makes him out to be hot and bothered, there is actually an old-world grace and polish about his expressions, which include words such as 'partook'.

Somehow, you can't see him designing something as crass as a casino. To be sure, industry insiders say that clients seek him out when they want landmarks of calm, not lightning rods for arguments.

So, you prod, what was so appealing about the Sands bid that had him taking it on even though he was not the immediate choice for the job?

Calling it an 'extraordinary opportunity', he says: 'I was so interested in this site because it is so integral to downtown Singapore. So the project could become a symbol which is not whimsical or capricious, but an icon of dignity and humanity.'

He glides through his sentences like one who is utterly sure why he does what he does, and how he is going to do it.

But glib he is not, because where fast-talkers tend to bamboozle their listeners with jargon, Mr Safdie - who taught urban design at Harvard Design School for 12 years - uses the simplest language to explain the biggest ideas.

Speaking of which, he says he and Singaporean planners 'speak the same language, speak of the same things'.

In fact, he avers: 'I could have written the Government's (brief) for the integrated resort myself.'

He adds: 'Singapore has always been extremely bold in planning; of course, there were mistakes as well along the way but everyone's heart is in the right place to make Singapore a liveable city.'


Humility above all

YOU ponder this apparent about-turn. In 1997, he had told an Israeli newspaper that Singapore's Housing and Development Board was not making the most of the design potential of high-density housing.

To date, he has designed three projects here, namely the Ardmore Habitat condominiums, The Edge On Cairnhill and Simpang New Town.

You tell him some Singaporean architects look at The Edge - his relatively staid freehold condo project for Sembawang Properties - and feel he has long ceased to be an iconoclast.

You brace yourself for his bristling (he is famously contemptuous of those who don't see things his way).

But he waits out the query patiently and says, coolly, that in his 40 years in the business, he has been creating projects 'that are very important for cultural life'.

Among his proudest milestones are the Vancouver Public Library - whose Colosseum-like design caused an outcry at first - the United States Institute of Peace headquarters in Washington DC and the Khalsa/National Museum of the Sikhs in Punjab, India. 'I invite my critics to visit these places,' he says with what sounds like a snicker.

It may also be that he has weathered enough controversy throughout his career to be nonchalant about it.

He himself says he's quite happy to eat humble pie. 'In architecture, there is a tendency to lose one's humility, to be insensitive to the impact one's work has on humanity.

'It's a tragedy if you lose touch with the people you are designing buildings for.'

Big talk, yes, but he walks it. He is well-known for going to great lengths to make sure buildings live and breathe the rhythm of real life.

Take the seawall fronting the Sands resort site. Mr Safdie needs a seawall that is 'slightly curved' as that would work to turn the area into a promenade and arcade.

He recalls: 'I thought if I could integrate the promenade with the arcade, we could save some space and tuck the shops under the promenade. So I went back to the Urban Redevelopment Authority to get permission to rebuild the seawall so it curved a little, and it agreed.

'It was a breakthrough.'


Pearls and perils

IF THERE'S one thing this twice-married father of four is good at, it's breakthroughs.

After all, he smashed monolithic pretensions when he was only 23, designing Habitat 67, a housing project in Montreal, Canada, made up of biscuit-brown box-like concrete blocks in staggered stacks, and built into a hillside.

Today, Habitat 67 is still one of Montreal's most sought-after addresses. For a Singapore take on it, look no farther than Ardmore Habitat, which is a 1980s scaled-down version of Habitat 67 in white. It was also his first project here.

By 1971, the then 33-year-old had landed on the cover of Newsweek magazine, which reported that his rise 'is probably unequalled in architectural history'.

But, as so often happens in life, such early success brought him pearls as well as perils.

He muses: 'One of the things you learn since then is that with large projects, people are extremely demanding.

'A project you were known for ceases to be sufficient to sustain people's interest; how short-lived in some ways memories are.'

In fact, as The New Yorker noted in 2003, he built 'almost nothing' for 10 years after Habitat 67.

Of that, he recalls: 'I was successful, yes, yet several of my projects were not realised. There was difficulty in breaking through building codes; people found it difficult to accept the new things I was doing.'

That's so. He had New Yorkers up in arms with his 1980s design, Columbus Center, which they said would cast shadows over their beloved Central Park. It was never built.

And despite being a citizen of Canada, his country deigned to get him to design for its people only after his stint at Harvard Design School. That was so even though it had awarded him The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada's coveted Gold Medal when he was 30.

So how did he stay the course?

'Keeping your head above water is basically a matter of not letting success go to your head,' he says, adding that he is 'indebted' to his parents, both Sephardic Jews, for having taught him humility.

It was his father, a textile importer rendered poor and disenchanted by socialism in Israel of the day who yanked his family out of the country and planted them in Montreal.

So, at 15, Mr Safdie found himself 'non- voluntarily' being frogmarched by his family, as it were, to the West.

Resentful of the move at first, he has since drawn on his experiences to be 'a bridge between East and West'.

As he says this, verve wells up in his voice again.

You ask him what his most satisfying achievement to date is. He parries, then predicts that the Marina Bay Sands will be 'one of my most significant projects ever'.

As he puts it: 'I think it's going to shift Singapore's centre of gravity. It will become a counterpoint to Orchard Road, and that will become very interesting.

'It may even replace Orchard Road, and I'm very excited about that.'


By Cheong Suk-Wai, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT
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