Singapore restores two historic buildings to create $370 million art museum

Perched on the Padang—a large, open playing field in downtown Singapore best known for hosting National Day parades—the new, 690,000-squarefoot National Gallery Singapore stands as a dignified presence among the neighborhood’s British-colonial-era buildings and the business district’s sparkling modern skyscrapers.

Created out of a pair of adjacent buildings—the former City Hall and Supreme Court—the Singapore government funded the $370 million museum complex, which opened in November 2015 as a highlight of the island-nation’s 50th anniversary as an independent republic.

The guiding principle was to give the impression that the two buildings were largely untouched and returned to the public as they were, even though extensive technical work had been carried out below and above,” says Jean- François Milou, who led the project’s design team.

After nearly nine years of careful engineering, construction, and preservation, the result is a contemporary museum of intimate galleries connected by vast indoor plazas and sky bridges and set within two lovingly restored buildings.

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