Tang Guan Bee, who became the fourth recipient of the Gold Medal, began his working life as an accounts clerk in a rubber processing factory at Ngee Soon. Only later did he consider a career in architecture and go on to graduate from the Singapore Polytechnic School of Architecture in 1970.
His first professional post was in the firm Archynamics, and it was during this period that he took off on a Grand Tour to study the architecture of Europe. In 1984 he set up his own company, Tangguanbee Architects, and soon became recognised for his innovative, cutting edge appeal. Indeed his designs are so respected that they frequently feature in international publications. Two of his buildings, East Point at Simei and The Gallery Hotel on Robertson Quay, were so highly regarded that they were nominated for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2001. Tang has also caught the attention of the local profession, winning the first SIA Eco Housing Competition in 1995, which was part of the Institute’s drive towards ecologically sustainable architecture.
No less passionate is Tang’s commitment to education, his involvement going back to the 1980s. He has become a mentor to the younger generation of architects through his involvement at the NUS School of Architecture where he has taught for over 20 years.
Tang is also an active member of the SIA, playing a hands-on role in the organisation’s development and activities. He served as a Council Member from 1984 until 1986, during which time he transformed the then nondescript journal of the Institute (SIAJ) into the highly acclaimed Singapore Architect magazine.