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THE chief executive officer of the Housing & Development Board (HDB), Cheong Koon Hean, has become the first Asian and first Singaporean - as well as the only female - to receive two internationally acclaimed awards in urban development.
She was named the 2016 recipient of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) JC Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development and received the award in Dallas this morning, HDB said.
This marks her second international award, after receiving the 2016 Lynn S Beedle Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) in July this year.
Dr Cheong is the only person to have received both prestigious awards within the same year, and also the first government official and urban planning figure to receive the CTBUH award.
As the 17th Nichols laureate, Dr Cheong joins the ranks of past laureates such as internationally renowned architect Richard Rogers, and Rockefeller Foundation president Judith Rodin.
As a trained architect-planner, Dr Cheong's contributions date back to her tenure in URA as CEO from 2004 to 2010 when she transformed Marina Bay from a tract of empty reclaimed land into a new business and financial district.
She also led in the planning and development of major growth areas such as Jurong, Kallang and Paya Lebar; guided the formulation of the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco City Master Plan; and initiated the Architecture and Urban Design Excellence Programme.
Since her appointment as CEO of HDB in August 2010, Dr Cheong has steered the organisation in adopting new approaches in providing highly liveable and sustainable homes.
In 2011, she launched the Roadmap to Better Living in HDB Towns, which guides HDB's development of community-centric towns. Under her leadership, new-generation public housing projects have progressively taken shape, raising the bar for HDB living.
"Singapore faces huge constraints in land and resources, but through sheer hard work and determination, Singapore has transformed itself into one of the most liveable cities in the world today," Dr Cheong said.
"Dedicated urban planners have, over the years, created our own innovative planning solutions which other cities now talk about. We must continue to be visionary and bold to make Singapore a great place to live, work and play. But never forget that it's about planning for people - we want to fill up the city with hopes and memories so we can call it home."