Sunday, August 29, 2010

Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Marina Bay Sands opens long-awaited SkyPark in flamboyant two-day ceremony

This Thursday saw part of Singapore’s newest mixed use development opened to the public in an extravagant ceremony across one of the world’s largest observation decks. Whilst the world must wait until later in the year for the completed building, the SkyPark, Event Plaza, shops, dining options and many nightlife offerings on the complex are now fully functional. Marina Bay Sands is a magnificent construction – a S$8bn development including a 2,560-room hotel, 120,000 sq m convention centre, The Shoppes mall, six restaurants, an Art and Science museum, two Sands Theatres, two floating pavilions and an 'atrium style' casino with 500 tables and 1,600 slot machines. The complex will be opened in 3-4 stages, with full completion on course for late 2010. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the project’s developer Las Vegas Sands Corp, Mr. Sheldon G. Adelson, said: “The opening of the Sands SkyPark signifies an important milestone for Marina Bay Sands. This has been the single, most challenging engineering component of our unique integrated resort and to see it materialise is an incredibly proud moment for us. Marina Bay Sands along with its signature Sands SkyPark will be a truly impressive icon and we are excited to present this bold architecture to not only Singapore but to the rest of the world.”

Situated on Bayfront Avenue, across the water from Singapore's Central Business District, no expense has been spared in this luxurious design, where world-class dining will be supplied by Singaporean celebrity chef Justin Quek’s newest restaurant, Sky 57, and customers can gamble to their heart's content in the world's most expensive stand-alone casino, featuring four levels of gaming and entertainment under the light of a 7 tonne Swarovski chandelier.
The real gem of this exotic construction however is located in its crown. The three vertical 200m towers are topped with an extensive 9,941 sq m SkyPark, which totes a public observatory, jogging paths, gardens, restaurants and lounges. Basking in the limelight is a stunning 1,396 sq m infinity pool, from which guests at the hotel can enjoy the breathtaking views over the Singapore skyline. One of the world’s largest cantilevers (at 65m), the park can hold an impressive 3,900 people and is longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall. The park will be open to the public daily from 10am to 10pm.

 Things haven’t always been so rosy onsite however, as the project failed to avoid the global economic crisis of recent months. Las Vegas Sands reportedly faced delays caused by labour shortages and escalating material costs, and had to delay projects elsewhere in the world in order to keep to strict deadlines. The issues didn’t stop once the first stages of the project were completed, as the first use of the conference centre – by The Inter-Pacific Bar Association – was marred by complaints of uncompleted facilities and a power cut during a speech. These mishaps found Marina Bay Sands suing the IPBA, after the firm refused to pay the S$300,000 previously agreed for use of facilities. In June, the IPBA counter-sued, complaining that its earlier payments had been imposed by ‘duress, fear and force’. Not off to a good start.

Regardless, things seem to be on the up for the delectable mixed-use development, as the June opening was deemed a full success. In line with its extreme architecture, the two-day event was topped off with a ‘World Championship Climb’, where 7 teams of 21 rock climbers scaled the shimmering glass façade of the building and 4,000 invited guests and customers were entertained with an evening concert. The SkyPark was officially opened at 2pm the following day.

Whilst one may consider this superb construction to have taken years of meticulous design, architect Moshe Safdie came on board the project with only four months left to the official Government-set deadline. Astonishingly, the architect managed to complete the 1,000,000 sq m design on time and to specification, commenting: “Singapore has invested a lot in this project, which is based in the most prominent site in Singapore. It’s right across downtown, and they set this up as a national project, they wrote very exacting terms of reference for the project. The idea was for it to have gardens on the ground, in the mid-level and in the sky, each serving another purpose and another function. All this together forms a project that is very integrated with nature and with green open spaces.”

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