The SIA Gold Medal is the highest honour the Singapore Institute of Architects bestowed on a senior architect, in recognition of his life time contribution to architecture and his most distinguished service to the profession of architecture. The senior architect bestowed with this Award would have attained a respectable standing in society and has made sustained and substantial contribution to architecture and the profession.
The Medal was introduced at a point in Singaporean architectural history when many of the first generation of architects who had pioneered the profession in Singapore was nearing retirement age, and the Institute believed that it was then appropriate to confer an honour on those who had contributed significantly to architecture during their lifetime. It was a time when Singaporean architecture could be said to have come of age; a period when there was a time frame and body of work with which to judge those who had made a sustained and substantial contribution to architecture in Singapore.
The Medal is conferred on a different architect once every two years and the first SIA Gold Medal was conferred in 1998. To give the honour the prestige it deserves, only one architect is conferred in each occasion. The Medal is modelled on RIBA’s Royal Gold Medal, which was instituted by Queen Victoria in 1848.
To receive the SIA Gold Medal, the nominee has to have demonstrated through his work that he has fulfilled three principal criteria:
- He has achieved a sustained and substantial body of work of architectural excellence and that either directly or indirectly he has promoted the advancement of architecture.
- He has attained a respected professional standing in society, with personal integrity, and that he may be considered an ‘ambassador’ for the profession.
- He has demonstrated leadership qualities that provide direction and enhancement for the prestige of the architectural profession, as well as serving as a role model that will inspire other architects.
The selection of the recipient is through nomination by SIA members who have to provide supporting evidence for the suitability of the person being nominated. An Awards Committee comprising eminent persons and architects within the profession then evaluate the candidates before endorsing one recommendation. The person nominated for the award is required to give a lecture that focuses on a review of his work and achievement.
The award consists of a crystal sculpture designed by Singaporean artist Min Chen, and is made in Germany by experienced glass blowers. On the sculpture are the words ‘SIA Gold Medal Award for Life Time Contribution to Architecture’. On the box in which the award is stored is a poem by Min Chen inscribed on a metal plate.
He is come of age but Ageless
True but mysterious
His internal space informs his facade
This is a tribute to one man
Whose finite achievements transcend the apparent
A man of many faces, many profiles
But still all one man
One man whose grace and subtlety give
Substance to our touch;
One man whose destiny it is to have
His spirit forever reside within our hearts