One of the World’s Most Extensive and Expensive Integrated Resorts, Resorts World Sentosa Was Built in a Record Time of Under Three Years
We are always thrilled to hear news from Michael Graves & Associates (MGA), especially when it comes in the form of a mega-project. This week they announced the completion of the first phase of their Resorts World Sentosa, a new global vacation destination combining top-flight hotels, family entertainment, fine dining, and world-class gaming on 121 acres just across Keppel Harbor from downtown Singapore.
Aerial view of the resort
The project marks a significant milestone for Singapore, as MGA’s client Genting Singapore builds the country’s first large-scale multi-recreational luxury park. The resort, which includes a Universal Studio Theme Park, was one of the first projects to be certified with the GoldPlus award from Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority’s (BCA) Green Mark program for energy efficiency. It’s also a major accomplishment for MGA—the largest project in the firm’s 46 year history, and the best example of its unique integrated design practice, with master planning, architecture, interior design, furniture, products and graphics, all from the minds of designer Michael Graves and Principal-in-Charge Patrick Burke.
Says Michael Graves, “Sentosa brings together so many parts of our practice—it draws on the deep skill-set of my partners, and our talented staff, and it’s allowed us to demonstrate our architectural values on a larger canvas than ever before.”
The US$4.32 billion project was conceived in two parts: first, in the northeastern corner of Sentosa Island, a Universal Studios theme park (not designed by MGA), which finished construction earlier this year; then, just west of that, a resort with a mixed program of leisure and hospitality facilities including a casino, a museum, high-end retail and more, all aimed at attracting a diverse clientele from around the region and around the world. The MGA submission was selected from among contributions by some of the world’s most prominent architects in a competition sponsored by the government of Singapore.
With its spirited buildings and assortment of uniquely differentiated pedestrian environments, the winning MGA scheme brings to mind some of the great pleasure spots of the past—Coney Island in its heyday, Chicago’s Columbian Exhibition of 1893—and imparts to the ultra-modern city-state of Singapore a sense of place and of history. Seen against the background of Sentosa Island’s tropical forests, the pitched green crowns of the tallest hotels recall the tropical forested hills behind them; below, the resort’s active, village-like outdoor spaces are linked along paths sheltered by loggias and arcades, creating a naturally hospitable tropical ambiance.
Waterfront Retail & Dining
These walkways and public spaces help establish the character that defines—and the narrative that connects—Sentosa’s disparate spheres of activity. At the entrance to the resort, surrounded by shops and restaurants, Universal Plaza is a wide piazza that acts as a transition from the urban context of the main island of Singapore to the relaxed atmosphere of Resorts World Sentosa. Weaving through the central zone of the resort, are long, semi-enclosed eco-cooled passages covered by canopies and lined with an unparalleled array of retail and dining options. Gardens, fountains and waterfalls abound throughout the resort, and in addition to an enhanced beachfront and marina there's the Sentosa Marine Life Park--a large landscaped site with an open waterfront basin that will become one of the largest marine life environments in the world.
Eco-Cooled Canopied Shopping
Nestled into this extraordinary landscape are the signature Graves buildings housing the guest accommodations. Approximately 1,800 rooms, along with conference rooms and ballrooms (including a Grand Ballroom with room for 7,300), are divided among six hotels, each with its own particular theme and amenities. Topping the list is the luxurious Crockfords Tower, largely for casino-goers, as well as a beach hotel and villas arrayed around a spa by international spa experts ESPA. Other hospitality options include the family-oriented Festive Hotel(home to the Festive Grand Theater), a branch of the Hard Rock Hotel franchise, and the exclusive Equarius Hotel and Water Park.
The Hotel Michael, named after the architect, is a tribute to Graves’ singular design genius. The firm’s hallmark “design for all” attitude is on display in the vibrant colors and whimsical forms that appear throughout the interiors—including in the artwork that Graves painted especially for the hotel rooms, along with an original typeface that he created for its signage. The Hotel Michael also features the Michael Graves Gallery, a retail shop where guests can purchase Michael Graves products, many of them designed exclusively for the guest rooms and public spaces of Resorts World Sentosa.
Perhaps most striking of all are the features most visible from across the bay, the Maritime Xperiential Museum, Marina and Showplace Theater. The museum is an iconic structure inspired by sea-going vessels, an allusion to the nautically-oriented programs and exhibits within created by acclaimed designer Ralph Appelbaum. Throughout the day, dappled light and shadows cast by the ribbed frame will enliven the interiors as visiting families learn about the storied maritime past of Singapore. The marina and theater directly adjacent to the museum take up the nautical theme, with demonstrations and evening spectaculars that use the harbor as both subject and backdrop.
From the decor in the resort’s high-end restaurants, to the theaters for visiting international performers, to the lamps on the bedside tables, Michael Graves & Associates have designed Resorts World Sentosa to be a luxury resort with a warm, welcoming spirit, in keeping with MGA’s longstanding commitment to humanism and accessible design.
It’s the kind of project only the omni-designers at MGA could do, combining their skills as product designers—honed through years of designing home wares for Target Stores—and their decades of experience as architects, with a recent portfolio of major residential, hospitality, and institutional work in cities across the globe. For RWS, the scope, scale, and fast-paced schedule was maintained as a result of seamless integration between MGA and Singapore-based executive architect DP Architects. As MGA Principal-in-Charge Patrick Burke puts it, “I see Resorts World Sentosa as the fullest expression yet of the MGA design ethic: the emphasis is on people, and on creating environments that connect with them on a cultural as well as an emotional level.”
Implementing a sustainable design:
The architects issued a list of measures that were implemented during the design:
- Preservation of an existing jungle area within the West Zone that is set aside to allow the existing habitat to flourish
- Reduction of reliance on air-conditioning with the usage of ETFE canopies and the eco-coolers which are meant to lower ambient temperatures by as much as 41 degrees Fahrenheit/5 degrees Celsius
- Resorts World Sentosa includes the largest solar panel array in Singapore, within Universal Studios Singapore, that can generate 500,000kwh of energy annually. This is equivalent to the power consumption of 108 four-room flats.
- Recycling of air conditioner condensate waste water
- Green roofs throughout much of Universal Studios Singapore (USS)
- Retention of rain water runoff from the surrounding area (beyond the site limits) within the USS Lagoon that is then recycled and reconditioned for use within the cooling plant
- Extremely efficient district cooling plant