Our WATG Singapore Toastmasters Club managed to get two teams together to compete in the first ever Division A Toastmasters Amazing Race. The Red team consisted of myself, Suhada, Ashique and Ronaldo. Harris, Umar, Reena and Cheryl were representing WATG's Black team.
WATG Red Team
Our adventure started on the riverfront and took us on some competitive running through the streets of the CBD, found us dancing in public on the waterfront and racing through the MRT to the quirky Haw Par Villa, where we searched for sculptures that matched the riddles on our clues. The WATG teams were neck and neck at this point, and we continued on with the competitive spirit during our race through a mall which was complete with embarrassing photos with mannequins and tracking down free samples, playing some charades on the roof and finally onto Sentosa for a run along the beach, some silhouette jump shots and lastly a sandcastle building challenge. Side by side we finished our sandcastles, with not another team yet in site, and in the spirit of teamwork (and because we were all so tired and dehydrated) we all walked into the finish hand in hand alternating red and black team members.
The next team finished about an hour after our amazing finish and WATG took home both the first place and the second place prizes! The race was such great fun and we are looking forward to continuing to make an impression on the Singapore Toastmasters community.
70 years ago the founder of WATG, Pete Wimberly started a small architectural firm in Honolulu, Hawaii and pioneered the world with his partners and name givers of the firm, Jerry Allison, Greg Tong, and Don Goo. Nowadays, the firm is worldwide renowned for creating unique destinations not only for their design and sense of place but also for their bottom-line success. Many of WATG's projects have become landmarks. Now it turns out that they are becoming shining movie stars.
Just recently, I watched the movie "Blended" with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore distributed by Warner Bros Pictures in 2014. The rather shallow romantic adventurous comedy tells the story of two single parents that end up in a "blended family moon" in South Africa with their kids.
Quite bored by the first part of the story, I suddenly realize that the African journey takes place in one of the Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo (WATG) designed hotel destinations. The déjà vu moment grabs my attention; I go to our WATG website to verify the authenticity and google the filming location ending up with the saga behind the lost city and obtain the answer what inspired the creation of the place:
The Legend of the Lost City - The Lost City is shrouded in mystery and legend. In an age long ago, a nomadic tribe ventured from their northern African home in search of the blessed land, which had appeared the King in a vision. They settled in a valley where the sun shone warm and bright; where fresh water quenched their thirst and the land yielded plant and animal for sustenance. Through many generations, the people prospered. They toiled and built a magnificent city of grand proportions as a tribute to the King who had led them to their Utopia. They fashioned monuments of the animals, which graced this blessed kingdom; and created things of great beauty that pleased their leader. One day the sky grew dark. Distant rumblings caused the animals to flee into the sanctuary of the forest. There was an eerie stillness… and then the earth opened and consumed the beautiful city, its ponds and gardens. When at last the quake abated, all had been reduced to ruins. Many centuries passed. Then, using the modern methods, skills and resources of experts from all over the world, the city was restored to honor this ancient legend. The lost City had been found.
The Palace of the Lost City
The WATG designed picturesque South African hotel was completed in December 1992 at a cost of R830 million (then US $280 million), and took just 28 months to build. During the busiest time of construction, almost 5000 people worked on the project. Since then, the Palace of the lost City has received various awards thanks to its uniqueness and timeless beauty of the world's most elite and sought-after holiday destinations.
The Palace of the lost City is not the only WATG design that was used as a filming location.
The stunning and opulent seven star luxury hotel Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi with its 302 luxury rooms and 92 suites has become a famous filming location for many European TV shows such as the German luxurious cruise ship TV series called "Das Traumschiff." Last year, Fast & Furious 7 cast and crew with stars like Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel were seen in the luxurious hotel location. The American action thriller is going to be released on April 3, 2015.
The Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi
Scene from James Bond's Casino Royale, "After the Sunset," into The Blue were filmed in the Atlantis Paradise Island. The resort and casino on Paradise Island was designed by WATG architects and developed by tycoon Sol Kerzner in 1994.
Atlantis, Paradise Island
Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai hosted the global blockbuster movie premiere for the "Happy New Year" Bollywood film including stars like Deepika Padukone and Shah Rukh Khan. The hotel destination was designed by WATG and became the number one destination in the region.
Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai
For an architect and designer it is quite an awarding feeling when a hospitality project emerges to a popular tourist attraction or obtains recognition as one of the top hotels in the world, but when your design appears in the movie theatres because the destination was chosen as a filming location - that tells its own story about the place.
WATG is 70 years young this year and we couldn't feel more energized and youthful! Over the next year we will be celebrating our "70 years of Design Excellence," sharing our stories of the past, our recent success and our outlook on the future.
Each year WATG and Wimberly Interiors develops a business plan and strategy to help us grow, be profitable, and preserve our very special culture. We have designated 2015 as "The Year of Talent." While we are always focused on our talent, helping them grow and looking for more incredible designers to join our team, this year will be different. With the growth of the millennial generation, an ever changing tourism market, new trends and a younger group of clients entering the market, we recognize that we need to not just prepare our designers but we need to put them in the spotlight to ensure our collective success for another 70 years.
We'll be sharing highlights of some of the leadership programs, celebrating promotions at all levels, and inviting the world to share in the success of our talented designers around the globe.
Our inspired designs are an outcome of our amazing people and we look forward to sharing both throughout 2015.
We are born innovators.
Careful examination of this photo reveals the truths of that statement. Somehow along the path, we have forgotten the scale in which we can change humanity. The happiness of these young boys, and the pride in their accomplishment juxtaposed with their surroundings is a statement in itself. Innovation does not only work on the scale of million dollar productions, but rather on a more personal level.
The kids in this photo are no different than the ones which surround us daily, in that they look up to us as role models. Our daily decisions truly affect their future more than our own. Great innovations have consideration of humanity at their core, using happiness as their fuel. Many great innovators such as Mother Teresa, Gandhi and Martin Luther King, who made changes for humanity as a whole share similarities. One characteristic they possess is the art of sacrifice. Their lives were dedicated to the improvement and equality of mankind, enduring pain in their journey.
This may be a morbid perspective, but none of us will be here forever. Do you want to be part of another generation that contributed to the problem? Or rather the first generation, who as a whole sacrificed for the betterment of the future. Don't let your current "comfort" be the reason for disregarding the quality of life of others. Books are not written for the passive members of a society, but rather for those who take a stand.
Imagine how beautiful the world would be if you look inside yourself to improve. By enlarging the scope in which we care, we allow true innovations to happen.
Recently I completed a 1.5 X 9.3 meter long wall mural for a Thai Mookata restaurant at Bottle Tree Village, a recreation place with an idyllic kampong-like setting in Yishun, northern Singapore. Mookata is a Thai specialty originated from Chiang Mai featuring a special pot that combines barbeque and steamboat together.
The mural depicts an otherworldly Mookata village in Chiang Mai, one set on (and sometimes in) the special Mookata pots. The villagers gather and prepare for a feast on a joyous day, stirring soup and grilling meat, sending delightful scents up towards the heavens, together with offerings of water lights and sky lanterns. With a background in architecture I love taking my knowledge of buildings and reinterpreting it in a fanciful and imaginary way that will make people smile.
The scale of the wall was a challenge as it was the first time I've drawn on such a large surface, but I absolutely loved it and can't wait to do it again. The mural was done completely free hand over five days. I loved working in the kampong (traditional Malay village) setting, sitting by the pond enjoying lunch, feeling the breeze on my face and thinking of the next scene to depict, and working alongside all the lovely contractors who were very kind to look out for me as I worked as well as the wall mural.
I'm looking forward to the restaurant opening soon and sharing my imagination with all those that partake in their delicious cuisine!
Early in 2014 WATG Singapore embarked on a program to help those in the office with hidden talent to showcase their craft. The "Art Wall" was born, and under the leadership of Roger Gaspar and Haryady, the office has seen the artistic works of many of WATG's hidden talent. At the end of each artists' show, all artwork were sold with 100% of the proceeds going to charity. To date, the Art Wall raised over $3,000 for charity.
Most recently Cheryl Heap took up the challenge of showcasing her Instagram travel doodles. What started as a presentation of art turned into a catalyst for much bigger ambitions. Cheryl discovered a charity called Pencils of Promise that built over 200 schools in underprivileged communities around the world. She decided to take up the challenge to fund an entire school.
The Art Wall project has given her campaign a kick start of over $1000 towards her end goal of $25,000 to fund the construction of a new school in Laos.
See Cheryl's latest mural project in Kuala Lumpur:
More of Cheryl's work below:
Jon Lee and I were honored to co-captain Team WATG as we competed in the CANstruction competition, sponsored by AIA Honolulu at Pearlridge Center.
In our eight-year history of competing in CANstruction, this is the first year we used every single can in our structure. In total, over 4,000 cans were used to build the treasure chest and octopus. Every single can will go to the Hawaii Foodbank.
See the video below documenting the entire CANstruction process:
We were also on the KHON evening news:
Although we didn't win the coveted "Jurors' Favorite" award, Team WATG once again brought their A-game for this worthy cause.
The final results:
Juror's Favorite: CANjago: Allied Builders & MGA
Best use of labels: Dream up high, stand up to hunger - CAN-venture w/ us (Up): RMAA
Best Meal: Pirate's Plunder WATG
Structural Ingenuity: Fiercely Fighting Hunger to End Hunger (Dragon): Coffman Engineers
Honorable Mention (2) : Summer Dreams are CANceivable (Olaf): ADM; Cat in the Hat: Swinerton & Group 70
Best Shirt: RMAA
Many thanks to our generous sponsors:
Bays Lung Rose and Holma
The Chong Group
And a special thank you to Hormel for their generous donation of canned food.
What started in Irvine as a challenge to the WATG/Wimberly Interiors leadership group, the ALS Challenge spread globally throughout WATG's offices and was open to all employees. Each office faced different conditions, and were able to improvise...
I loved participating so much that I hoped a flight from Singapore to Irvine to do it again!
Sometimes, instead of reinventing the wheel, all that needs to be done is to give it an update for present-day use. The same approach can be applied to architecture. Between World War I and World War II, people were preoccupied with buildings that allowed air and sunshine in. These more open structures started a movement that shaped modern architecture as we know it.
In 1997, WATG expanded on the concept of open-air architecture when designing the Hawaii Convention Center. Located in Honolulu on the island of Oahu, the building highlights Hawaii's culture and natural beauty with an open design that allows visitors to appreciate the immediate landscape. This includes 3.5 acres of terraces, lanais and courtyards.
Additionally, by making use of Hawaii’s trade winds, we were able to avoid having to install an air-conditioning system in the concourses and hallways. Instead, all interior circulation remains open to allow for natural ventilation. This served a double purpose, as it allowed Hawaii's surroundings to be a part of the design, and we were able to uphold our commitment to being environmentally friendly.
While openness is a key characteristic in the structure, other state-of-the-art features were incorporated as well. These include:
Encompassing a total of 1.1 million square feet, the Hawaii Convention Center was the epitome of architectural advancement when it was built, and it continues to exhibit state-of-the-art design concepts that will live on for years to come.
*The Hawaii Convention Center was designed in association with LMN Architects