Dr Albert Hong
Patron of SIA
Dr Albert Hong was conferred the First Patron of SIA at the 53rd SIA Annual Dinner on 23 May 2014.
The Patron of SIA is conferred on a senior architect who has made significant and invaluable contribution in support of the tenets of SIA, attained an impeccable standing in SIA and the profession, distinguished himself and held in high-regard in society, made significant contribution to the propagation of architectural education and other worthy causes and is a worthy Ambassador-at-large for SIA and the profession.
With a career that spans more than five decades, Dr Hong has been at the forefront of shaping Singapore’s built environment and creating many of our iconic buildings and landmarks. His bold vision, passion and perseverance has brought Singapore’s brand of architecture abroad and left many imprints around the world. At home, Dr Hong has been instrumental in building up SIA and has influenced and inspired many young lives through his tireless dedication in promoting architectural education.
From small to leading architectural firm
Dr Hong joined RSP Architects Planners & Engineers in 1964. It was then known as Raglan Squire & Partners and was renamed to its current name in 1980. From just a small firm then, Dr Hong has transformed it to become one of Asia’s leading architectural firms. He had the vision to enter the Indian market 18 years ago, making it the largest architectural practice in India. Even today, as the Chairman of RSP, Dr Hong continues with his vision of building up RSP’s operations and business further, creating memorable buildings and sustainable environments and extending its reach globally.
Laying the foundations for SIA
When Dr Hong started serving as SIA’s Chairman of Board of Trustees since 1975 and as its President for three terms, he believed in the value of promoting architectural excellence and saw the potential in the important role that SIA could play in enhancing the architectural profession and promoting good designs. His belief in SIA was so strong that he personally contributed to the development of the SIA Building Centre and was responsible for securing a loan to purchase SIA’s premises at Neil Road. He even paid for the salaries of SIA’s staff on many occasions during its earlier days. These efforts laid the foundation for SIA to grow to what it is today.
Passion for education
Because of his own personal experience as a student, Dr Hong has an immense personal passion in helping needy students pursue their education. He only had a one way ticket to London and supported his education by working at ice cream and chocolate factories and the post office throughout his university days. Over the years, he has given out many scholarships and donations to schools without any strings attached. One of his major donations was $2 million made 20 years ago to the Raffles Institution (RI), his alma mater, where distinguished leaders have been educated including the former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and former Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong. A hall in RI was named after him as a testament of his contributions.
Dr Hong has also been working behind the scenes in shaping architectural education through serving in several schools’ advisory committees. He has pushed hard for a second school for design and architecture some 20 years ago and this has come to fruition with the opening of the second architecture school in the Singapore University of Technology and Design, to which Dr Hong has donated a substantial sum.
At the heart of all his efforts and contributions, Dr Hong is an outstanding entrepreneur and businessman. He has established many strong business links between Singapore and other countries. In recognition of his significant efforts as cochairperson of the Singapore-British Business Council, Dr Hong was given the award of the Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 2009. The award was presented to him in person by His Royal Highness, the Duke of York, Prince Andrew.
For his long and dedicated service to the development of Sarawak and Malaysia, he received the distinguished award of “Panglima Negara Bintang Sarawak” by Tuan Yang Terutama Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sarawak in 2008, giving him the title of “Dato Sri”. For his entrepreneurial abilities and achievements, Dr Hong received the prestigious Businessman of the Year award for 1994, which was presented to him by the then Prime Minister, Mr Goh Chok Tong. In presenting the award to Dr Hong, Mr Goh commended him:
“For his vision and outstanding entrepreneurial ability in developing RSP from an architectural practice into a leading business of architects, planners and engineers and for his achievements as a professional turned businessman.”
In spite of the challenges of changing times, Dr Hong’s unwavering determination and entrepreneurial spirit in pushing boundaries and transforming Singapore’s urban landscape here and abroad is truly inspiring. His continuous dedication in contributing back to society makes him an exemplary role model for the younger generations.
Conferment of Patron of SIA @ 53rd SIA Annual Dinner