Mega-complex in Singapore

Mega-complex in Singapore is largest project ever for Michael Graves & Associates

When Patrick Burke, principal at Princeton, N.J.-based Michael Graves & Associates (MGA), was preparing to enter the invitation-only design competition in 2008 for what became Resorts World Sentosa, he said the client suggested the plan would be for a tropical resort with tropical guest huts.

Instead, the $4.32 billion project, which recently completed its first of two phases, has become Singapore’s first, large-scale, multi-recreational luxury park as well as the biggest project MGA has completed. The resort, which includes, a Universal Singapore Theme Park, six hotels, a casino, museum, marine life park, a 7,300-person underground ballroom, restaurants and high-end shops, sits on a 121-acre site on Sentosa, about one-third of the island - just across Keppel Harbor from downtown Singapore.

The project aims to attract both gamblers to the casino as well as families to the theme parks, which provided some design challenges, said Graves, during a recent presentation of the project at his Princeton office. “These two ideas of family and gaming are not easily resolved,” said Graves. Burke, who is the principal-in-charge said designing a human-scale project was the most important goal so all the structures would come together ‘as a unique collection of buildings.”

Hotels have long sought the cache of a famous brand and fashion designers such as Georgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, Versace and Christian Lacroix have all had their designs uses in hotels. The Sentosa resort went in a different direction by naming a hotel after Graves – Hotel Michael, a 470-room boutique hotel. Designed by Graves inside and outside, the hotel features Graves' furniture and furnishings from his Michael Graves Design Group, as well as his paintings in public spaces and in each guest room. The hotel also has a gift shop with Graves-designed products and he also designed the hotel’s Italian restaurant and Sky Bar. “I’m not getting any money from (Hotel Michael)” he said with a laugh. “But if it’s successful (the developer) wants to take it to other countries.

The resort also includes the orchid-themed Festive Hotel, aimed at families, and the ultra-luxury Crocksford Tower, which has the extensive casino. Crocksford embraces the lucky colors of red and gold as well as vivid royal blue in the design, which has sleek modern forms rendered in materials such makore and zebrawood. The L-shaped, 390-room Festive Hotel has fun, vibrant interiors as well as a connected 1,600-seat Festive Grand Theater.

A Hard Rock Hotel, convention centre and coliseum theater is part the project and the exterior was designed by Graves with the interiors done by the Hard Rock’s own design group.

Beyond the theme park are the Marina Xperrimental Museum, Marina, and Showplace Theater. Inspired by sea vessels from the Silk Trade era, the museum has exhibits designed by Ralph Appelbaum. The small marina nearby will display replicas of sailing vessels.

Phase two starts in July on the west zone of the site and embraces the quieter, more secluded tropical environment, with the Equarius Hotel and two tree-house suites, elevated on stilts with wood construction inside. Also part of phase two is the Spa Village villas, which surrounding the ESPA Spa, with 40 guestrooms.

The natural beauty of Sentosa, which includes lush forests, inspired the design and drove the architects to make sure Resorts World did not overpower the landscape and would fit in seamlessly, Burke said. To do so, green-colored, curved roofs constructed from lightweight ETFE plastic decorate the tops of the resort’s two tallest building, the Hotel Michael and Crocksford Hotel. Each is imprinted with a foliage-like pattern to help the buildings blend into the natural landscape, as well as increase energy-efficiency by allowing control over the amount of light that enters inside to reduce the need for air conditioning. Throughout the site are a series of eco-cooling pedestrian pathways that link he resort’s areas like a “yellow brick road,” according to Graves.

These sustainable features, as well as a 500,000 annual kwh solar panel array, which is the largest in Singapore, retention and reuse of rainwater, and jungle preservation, helped the project gain a GoldPlus award from Singapore’s Building and Construction Agency’s (BCA) GreenMark program, which is the country’s green building rating system. So far this designation has been grated to only two projects in Singapore.

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