What has construction of developments to do with sketchings and bak chor mee? Well, you will have to read on to find out.
Constructing developments such as Frasers Tower, a 38-storey Grade A office tower nestled in a park of its own in the bustling Central Business District, would certainly qualify as an intimidating responsibility in anyone’s books.
But seemingly unfazed by the scale of the new Frasers Tower development, Chris Wu, Assistant General Manager, Projects, Development & Property, enthusiastically shared with us, his personal approach to tackling anything large-scale.
Sometimes breaking out in humour conveyed best in the colourful Hokkien dialect, he also touches on the cherished value of team camaraderie, and even raved about his favourite Telok Ayer lunch spot.
Outside of work, what Chris treasures most is family time with his wife, daughter and two sons. He enjoys having dinner and watching light-hearted movies with them and spends a considerable amount of time at home to help his children with their homework.
Exciting times ahead
Chris joined Frasers Centrepoint Singapore three years ago in May 2014 and oversees project management of the company’s latest premium commercial development, Frasers Tower, which will be completed in 2018.
Project management is an ongoing process that encompasses many aspects of building development, which can range from handling regulatory issues, design and space planning, risk management and mitigation, to construction management. Chris is responsible for ensuring that everything associated with the design and construction of Frasers Tower are on track.
Q. Tell us more about what you do, Chris.
Right now, I’m excited to be part of the Frasers Tower project because it is a significant commercial development for Frasers Centrepoint Singapore.
With Frasers Tower, I feel that we are doing our part to refresh Singapore’s skyline. Being only the second newly-built office building in Cecil Street, the development will stand prominently in the area. The Cecil Street area is a mature district with older commercial buildings; unlike the Raffles Place and Marina Bay areas that are populated with skyscrapers.
Q. Are there significant lessons from your job you can share with us?
A big part of my work involves managing various stakeholders who possess diverse expertise and experience, and bring varying advice and opinions to the table. I value the advice from my peers and partners as constructive feedback that is essential, because they challenge and test our existing methods and push us to improve them, whether in terms of efficiency or effectiveness.
In addition, we also receive feedback on what is done for similar developments in the vicinity. All this information enable us to refine our approaches, and bring us closer to creating our final vision.
Q. What are some things that keep you going when working on large-scale projects, in collaboration with a diverse team?
Get through it bit by bit
Often enough, we can make our problems seem less intimidating if we break them down into smaller parts and handle them bit by bit. Once we complete one part, we move on to another. It’s like washing a big elephant; you tackle it by washing the elephant section after section and eventually you get through the whole process.
Humour is more than welcome
Having good camaraderie with my consultants helps me get through challenging times. Sometimes a little humour through jokes, banter and laughter goes a long way to motivate everyone on the team.
A “give and take” approach in teamwork
Teamwork is essential in the development of building projects, which encompasses various disciplines. Right from the start, my trade consultants and I came to a consensus that no one is to work as an island without giving due consideration to others in the team. A “give and take” approach is necessary when it comes to creating something as complex as buildings.
Focus on the bigger picture
I also stress the importance of taking a step back at times to look at the bigger picture. If one scrutinises only the specifics that strike your personal interest, you may lose sight of the final goal. A positive balance of work dynamics is created when many people who possess different traits work together, and it is the job of project managers to bring these individuals and processes together.
Sketches to the rescue
When explaining important decisions or abstract concepts, it is especially hard to convey certain technical matters using laymen terms. For example, if I mentioned an AHU, most people will not know what it is but if I said air-con, everyone will get it.
While I have not perfected a fool-proof way to do this, I have found that sketching while presenting, makes it a little easier, to get my message across.
Q. Which is your favourite aspect of Frasers Tower?
“The Terrace at level 4 would be a comfortable spot to spend time at. There are locations where people can chill out and socialise. There is even a corner for foosball, a ping pong table, and resting pods! I could choose to do my work there, away from my desk, since there will be WiFi connectivity too.
This is just one of the tower’s four community zones—The Park, The Terrace, The Sky and The Oasis—designed to promote greater interaction and working environment among its participants.
The demands and demographics of people who do business are evolving. There is a sudden surge in co-working and communal office spaces where social interaction is highly encouraged.
To me, a shared working space serves as an information marketplace of sorts. Different businesses and operators within these communal spaces will use the opportunity to network and exchange valuable information. Interestingly, I find this information marketplace almost similar to how the Internet works, where extensive information we need is readily available.
Another one of my favourite Frasers Tower features is The Sky; a roof garden where tenants can enjoy panoramic views of the city. The Sky is situated on the 39th storey, over 200 metres above ground, and is an uncommon feature for Singapore’s commercial buildings.
Recently winning the Building & Construction Authority (BCA) Green Mark Platinum award, Frasers Tower is designed with lush landscaping and greenery spread throughout the building, creating the experience of working within tranquility and nature. The development even sits nestled in a park of its own!
When developing the design for Frasers Tower, we kept in mind the greater URA masterplan to form a ‘belt of green’ linked throughout the CBD, where one development’s landscape flows into another’s. I feel that such a collaborative approach among the industry is a more effective way of creating a greener, more sustainable Singapore.”
Q. Sustainability; what are your thoughts on it?
“I believe it is more important to consider the bigger picture of sustainability. It is a big topic nowadays, with increasing public attention turning towards green awards and initiatives such as the popular Earth Hour.
It is encouraging to know that public consciousness has reached a point whereby everyone knows they have a part to play in making a difference. If we consider how our actions will impact our future generations, it can help guide us to create more sustainable developments and be more conscious about our daily actions that contribute to sustainability.”
Q. Top picks for lunch in the area around Frasers Tower?
“I like to visit Amoy Street Food Centre. The minced pork noodles (bak chor mee) is one of my favourites and the stall owner is so friendly! You can find it by searching for the noodle stall with the longest queue and a signboard that has a cartoon illustration of the stall owner’s face.”
For more information about Frasers Tower, click here.