BE-150 Kuala Lumpur Alumni Gathering
This June Professor Julie Willis, Dean of the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, travelled to Kuala Lumpur to join Malaysian graduates in an alumni gathering.
The event saw 60 Architecture, Building and Planning alumni and Engineering alumni from across Malaysia gather together at the Hotel Majestic where they caught up with old friends, met new ones and connected with peers across the built environments and engineering industries.
This year’s visit to Malaysia was particularly significant as 2019 marks 150 years of built environment education at the University of Melbourne. This milestone is being celebrated in a year-long program titled BE-150, with one of the key aspirations of the program being to create opportunities to engage with our community – our students, the practitioners working in our professions, our staff, our alumni, our industry partners and the broader public.
The program aims to create instances for meaningful interaction and forming new connections, and this most recent Kuala Lumpur alumni celebration was the perfect example of what the BE 150 aims to achieve: a diverse alumni community coming together to meet, mingle and exchange thoughts on the current and future state of our professions.
Julie opened the celebration by highlighting the longstanding relationship between the Faculty and Malaysia. The first students from Malaysia to study with ABP arrived in the 1950s. In 2019, we have 150 Malaysian students studying across the Faculty’s undergraduate and postgraduate programs. With over 800 Malaysian alumni in total, the cohort is one of our largest, and Malaysian graduates are responsible for dramatically shaping the urban forms, practices and even skylines of a number of cities.
The celebration also welcomed guest speaker Yvonne Leong, a former director of BEP Akitek, one of Malaysia’s most successful architecture firms. Yvonne spoke of the strong link between BEP Akitek and our Faculty; Mr Kington Loo, one of Malaysia’s most successful architects and former Partner of BEP, was also one of our faculty’s first two Malaysian graduates who obtained their degrees in 1954.
Mr Loo’s contribution to the architectural community of Malaysia has been significant, and Yvonne highlighted many of his key projects including the Subang Airport (1962 – 1965), recounting how part way through the project the government revealed the approved cost had to be reduced by 30%, while the project deadline remained the same. This was a challenge that Loo and his team rose to by reducing the structural grid from 60’x60’ to 48’x48’, as well as revising the extent of air-conditioned spaces. To save on time, the construction contract was separated into packages, namely site works, substructure and superstructure. The project was a success, with Subang airport serving as KL’s main airport until 1998.
This story encapsulates the drive, ingenuity and commitment shared by our alumni, and it was heartening to see these qualities celebrated at the gathering.
BEP Akitek will also be celebrating a significant milestone in the not too distant future, with the 100-year anniversary of their firm’s establishment coming up in 2020. A book detailing the firm’s work over the last 100 years will be released to coincide with this significant anniversary, with the Faculty’s very own Professor Philip Goad, eminent architectural historian, set to write the introduction.
The Faculty is honoured to have this longstanding and ongoing association with Malaysia through our alumni and looks forward to returning in the near future.