Architect Chan Soo Khian, the Prestige Titan Award 2020 winner, adds another feather to his cap with his latest philanthropic project to revolutionise green accommodation. Mavis Teo gets under the skin of the entrepreneur. The 25th anniversary of SCDA Architects is more than just a significant milestone; it comes as the culmination of its past two decades of achievements, innovation and global expansion. If the measure of success is in how it is widely recognised and admired by many even outside of the world of architecture and property development both locally and globally, then indeed, this home-grown firm has hit the home run. The man behind it is none other than the founder and principal architect Chan Soo Khian, who is better known as Soo Chan. He won the inaugural President’s Design Award’s Designer of the Year honour in 2006. Under his leadership, SCDA (Soo Chan Design Associates) snagged the Design of the Year accolade for the National Design Centre in 2016. The firm is also known for spearheading some of our nation’s most beautiful ultra-luxury developments, such as The Marq and Leedon Residence. More recently, Soo Khian was thrust into the limelight again when SCDA was awarded the revamp of Singapore Art Museum. Needless to say, international accolades have been aplenty – some of these bestowed by the American Institute of Architects and the Royal Institute of British Architects.
Today, SCDA’s projects in Singapore only account for 10 per cent of its portfolio. Ninety per cent of it is in another 79 countries across six continents. In New York, Soo Khian is hailed as Singapore’s hottest export. Out of SCDA’s three projects in the metropolis, press the likes of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal headlined the launch of uber-luxe Soori High Line through in-depth interviews with Soo Khian. Through Soori High Line’s design, SCDA stretched the imagination of homebuyers in the Big Apple by conjuring the image of a lavish mansion in an urban apartment block – with a stunning design that incorporates a terrace, high ceilings, natural light and a private pool (at 16 of the 31 units). Another reason for the media buzz is that SCDA is also the developer for Soori High Line. This earned Soo Khian the label of a developer in New York, although he is quick to dismiss that. “First and foremost, I am an architect and designer,” states the trim and dapper 58-year-old at SCDA’s four-storey office in a Chinatown conservation shophouse. We beg to differ. Chan Soo Khian is clearly a lot more than these labels. SCDA has, under Soo Khian’s direction, grown to become known as one of the few multidisciplinary firms in Singapore to provide clients a holistic experience for architecture, interiors, landscaping, and furniture and product design. In addition to serving as a professor at the National University of Singapore Department of Architecture where he sits on the curriculum advisory board, the Penang-born Soo Khian also runs a