Up and Down
Construction project teams typically
build from the bottom up—but not this
one. By having separate crews work in
opposite directions, Ms. Goh and Mr.
Chee achieved more efficient execution
during renovations that included digging
a three-level basement below the original
buildings. After the team cast a concrete
slab over the first basement level it had
dug, crews were able to simultaneously
perform additional excavation below and
renovation above rather than do such
“Because of the short construction period,
we had to move up at the same time we moved
down,” Mr. Chee says.
The time it saved by working simultaneously
helped the team absorb other delays without having to extend the timeline, he says. For instance,
when a crane accident in September 2013 killed
two team members and triggered a three-month
delay, the overall timeline wasn’t affected. During
“Now we know
as much as
every wall and
slab. Not just
for our own
but also for the
Blending the two buildings into one functional,
aesthetically pleasing structure required
creative designs—and a dose of change management. Along with walkways, the open-air
atrium joining the two buildings includes a
shimmering glass-and-aluminum canopy that
mimics the thatched roofs once common in
But the project team discovered during
early documentation reviews that the plan to
fabricate the canopy off-site wasn’t possible.
Intricate welding to ensure a perfect fit could
only be performed on-site.
“Every single glass panel is a slightly different
size,” Ms. Goh says. “We had to remeasure [on-site] to make sure everything fit.”
2005: National Gallery
2008: Design contract
awarded to studioMilou
and CPG Consultants.
contract awarded to
2011: Construction begins.
2012: Restoration of
the Supreme Court’s
excavation is completed.
Work is suspended for
three months after crane
accident kills two team
obtained for former
Supreme Court building.
Gallery moved into its
new office in November
the delay, project safety officers worked closely with
Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower to address safety
concerns. Project managers also reviewed safety
protocols and assured workers that such risks would
be avoided going forward.
“It was a very traumatizing episode,” Mr. Chee
says. “Yet we had to motivate everyone to return to
work and get back to the speed and the level of productivity before the accident and then push harder
to finish the project.”