Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong officially opens SMU School of Law building and Kwa Geok Choo Law Library
Wednesday Mar 15,2017
Singapore, 15 March 2017 (Wednesday) – Singapore Management University (SMU) today celebrated the official opening of its new School of Law building and the Kwa Geok Choo Law Library. Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was the Guest-of-Honour at the ceremony, which was attended by 800 distinguished guests, donors, faculty, students, and SMU’s partners in the legal fraternity.
[Left photo: Prime Minister Lee speaking to 800 students, faculty and guests at the Opening Ceremony held on 15 March 2017. Right photo: (L-R) SMU School of Law Dean Prof Yeo Tiong Min, SMU Chairman Mr Ho Kwon Ping, PM Lee, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, SMU President Prof Arnoud De Meyer.]
Completed in December 2016, the new School of Law building now stands as a distinctive landmark at the junction of Armenian Street and Stamford Road/Fort Canning Link. The 23,000-square-metre building contains modern facilities to enrich the learning and teaching experience of SMU law students and faculty. It will also enable the law school to deepen its engagement with its alumni, the community, as well as the legal fraternity. The building is designed to be contemporary in expression, while integrating with the architecture and urban fabric of the civic district. Additionally, it builds upon the porosity of SMU’s city campus and further promotes public access to Stamford Green and Fort Canning Park.
The building features a law library and a moot court facility. The Kwa Geok Choo Law Library has been named in memory of the late Madam Kwa Geok Choo, wife of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. It boasts a rich depository of knowledge and is designed to stay ahead of the changing patterns of knowledge acquisition and transmission through the broad and deep use of the latest digital technologies.
[Photo: Kwa Geok Choo Law Library.]
SMU Chairman, Mr Ho Kwon Ping, said in his speech, “The Library is expressed architecturally as a sculptural dome to represent an ‘inspirational beacon’ that seeks to illuminate the lives and minds of those who draw upon the library’s centuries of legal knowledge. It is also symbolic of a ‘moral compass’ to remind students of the importance of ethical principles, truth and justice in society.”
“In this way we truly honour Madam Kwa Geok Choo. Beloved by all who knew her graceful humility, genuine warmth and gentle wit, Madam Kwa was herself a brilliant student and accomplished lawyer. She also was key to the drafting of significant legislation which profoundly shaped Singapore in its formative years,” he added.
The moot court facility has been named after Mr David Marshall, who was Singapore’s first Chief Minister and a top criminal lawyer known for his great oratory. Besides being Singapore’s first open-concept moot court, the facility also incorporates flexible furniture and movable walls, as well as state-of-the-art information technology and audio-visual infrastructure. It will serve to further support and enhance SMU’s moot training programme, which has to date produced many outstanding mooters who have done Singapore proud in numerous global mooting competitions. A bust of Mr David Marshall, donated by the Marshall family to SMU in 2011, stands in the moot court, reminding all SMU law students to always strive towards the qualities of passion, courage and integrity.
[Photo: SMU mooters making a presentation to Prime Minister Lee at the David Marshall Moot Court. In the forefront of the picture is a bust of Mr David Marshall, donated to SMU by the Marshall family in 2011.]
In commending the project team for their professionalism and dedication, SMU President, Professor Arnoud De Meyer, said, “The building itself represents a real engineering achievement. Constructed on the slopes of the historic Fort Canning Hill, on a site encompassing heritage trees, and with several municipal and conservation buildings, and the Fort Canning Tunnel close by – it was imperative that its design and construction were handled with the utmost integrity, sensitivity, skill and care. Yet it was also important to make the most of this precious land. In this respect, the Architect has designed the building to achieve optimal gross plot ratio, while adhering to building height constraints.”
The building boasts a high gross plot ratio of 3.2 GFA. The development project also accomplished high standards of safety, recording over two million safe-man-hours. For this achievement, the project received the 2017 Workplace Safety and Health Award Recognition for Projects (SHARP) presented by the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council and supported by the Singapore Ministry of Manpower; as well as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) 2016 Silver Award presented by United Kingdom-based ROSPA.
[Photo: SMU President, Prof Arnoud De Meyer, speaking at the Opening Ceremony held on 15 March 2017.]
Professor Yeo Tiong Min, Dean of SMU School of Law, said, “Interdisciplinary knowledge is today becoming increasingly relevant in legal practice. In a world of growing complexities, the law graduate of tomorrow needs to possess a deep reservoir of knowledge and cross-disciplinary expertise and mental agility to think, analyse and communicate.” He expressed his gratitude for the foresight of those who were involved in shaping the curriculum and ethos of SMU and the School of Law right from the start, and affirmed that the School will continue to pursue a holistic, broad-based approach towards nurturing legal minds from its new ‘home’.
The SMU Pro Bono Centre, which was established in 2013, also finds a new home in the new building. The Centre will be supported by the RHT Rajan Menon Foundation for five years (commencing in Academic Year 2017-2018), with a gift of $300,000 from the Foundation, which is the corporate foundation set up by the partners of RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP. Through its work, the Centre will continue to give back to the community while it instills legal professionalism and social responsibility in SMU law students and provides them with opportunities to appreciate and integrate academic work with real-life experience.
“Pro bono involvement, as well as the diverse community service activities and projects that our law students partake in locally and abroad, will nurture in students a strong sense of social mission as well as empathy for the less privileged among us,” added Professor Yeo.
The SMU School of Law building is designed by Singapore-registered architectural firm, MKPL Architects, and constructed by Kajima Overseas Asia Pte Ltd.
[Photo: Kwa Geok Choo Law Library, reminscent of a pearl, glowing softly into the night.]
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