The week that was…9-13th February 2015
Singapore, weekend 14th February 2015
Monday 9; Jakarta- Familiar territory
After more than 7 years (!) on this project the finish line is in view…finally. Have the problems changed or been resolved, no, not really. We keep issuing the same snagging list of things that need to be rectified but nothing really happens. Focus has now turned on to opening the hotel by a specific date (next month) so getting things finished is of higher priority than rectifying problem issues or poor workmanship…very familiar territory for the last year at least. We are now back every month, contrary to before the client is now duly paying their consultants and contractors perhaps having learned that not paying or delaying payment tactics only slows down the project even further. We boycotted work for several months last year for this very reason. The hotel operator now extremely frustrated with full staff already onsite has pushed the owners to open by March even though we all know it will be a super soft opening with only 45 rooms ready, the lobby the lobby bar and the all-day dining restaurant. This peek inside the site office says it all…where do I begin?
Tuesday 10; Jakarta- Flooding!
I took the opportunity to meet some other potential clients in the morning before returning to site. I wasn’t sure if I could reach their office because it had not stopped raining for several days and many parts of Jakarta are flooded. However we manage to reach their office fairly fast, eventhough in driving rain, partly because many people seem to have stayed home, creating unfamiliar empty roads. In the rush to beat the rain from my taxi into the clients building I drop my mobile phone in the taxi, but realise that just in time when entering the building, rushing back to the street hailing after the taxi. My phone is indeed on the floor in the taxi and I return soaked wet but relieved to the client’s office…that was a short call, I would never have managed to find back my phone if not for barely managing to hail the taxi back…pheewww! The meeting however went really well and besides the project that I came for the client, impressed with our credentials, proposes a package deal with some more hotel renovations…worth my rain shower…Later in the afternoon after we finish the debrief of our visit we decide to leave a bit earlier for the airport worrying about rain traffic jam and flooding. To our surprise the roads are practically empty and we reach the airport in just over 30 mins, an unprecedented record as far as I can remember. We even manage to catch an earlier flight back to Singapore. On the way to the airport on the side of the highway we did see cars stuck in what we first thought was a traffic jam caused by an accident only to see later that people where actually playing in waist deep water! Flooding on both sides of the highway as far as we could see…we had a lucky escape.
Wednesday 11, Kuala Lumpur – Quality pays
After a night in transit in Singapore I had back to the airport to catch an early flight to Kuala Lumpur for the day. A former project manager moved to a new company in Malaysia and promptly convinced his boss to engage us for the two projects he is working on, courtesy of a great professional relationship we shared under his previous company. The morale being that you always try to deliver top professional quality of work and treat your clients with due respect in the process always delivering above expectation. This is easier said than done, I know, but in his case we had always consistently been able to deliver (we are working on 5 projects with his former company) beyond our promise; under promise, over deliver! Of course now he is expecting the same, so we have created high expectation. That is even more reinforced by the fact that he decided to kick out the current lighting designer on one of the project because of non-performance. Taking over from a fellow lighting designer is never nice, but then I guess it is up to the designer and the client to work it out…it takes two to tango. While I do not know the finer details I did request to formally end the previous designer’s contract before signing us on officially. It is a small world, these things have to be settled professionally. I have gone through that myself where other consultants took over “my” project, due to irreparable differences, that happens…we deal with it and move on.
Thursday 12; Singapore – Finally a fairly quiet office day
Back in Singapore and not travelling till after Chinese New Year…settling back in the office and dealing with many issues but all in the peace and calm of the office environment without too many distractions. We have a couple of typical CNY deadlines, but overall it is clear that many companies are starting to get ready for the upcoming new year celebrations. I deal with the aftermath of my trips to Jakarta and KL, reporting back on follow-up actions and go see two project sites that nee my input. One of them is interesting because it concerns two identical office lobbies both with exactly the same lighting design and layout with only one minor difference; one side of the lift lobbies has windows, the other has not. As a result (even though the measured lighting levels are also practically identical) the visual feel of one is darker than the other. I have to note that in that section of this renovation project no additional lighting was allowed due to the feature nature of the ceiling, so we upgraded the existing lighting points. After considering various options (from adding cove lighting and others) we settled on a simple spot hidden in a nearby pendant to highlight the flower arrangement on the blind wall. Problem solved, suddenly we had a visually pleasing space and no-one complained about lighting levels anymore.
Friday 13; Singapore – Networking
Part and parcel of doing business is networking at functions and while I am not a typical networking person, I do attend to them when I feel it is relevant or something a bit out of the ordinary. This Friday, (the 13th!), I was invited by the Hong Kong Trade Development Corporation with whom I have had dealings in the past and most recently when they sponsored my talk at the Hong Kong (autumn) Light Fair. While this sort of events is often on consular level, the venue was the main attraction, the newly renovated Victoria Theatre; a place I had not yet had the opportunity to visit. Renovated by W-Architects it has become a jewel of Singapore’s heritage and certainly the lighting (not sure who did it) was well done, bar some minor misses, but that is my critical designers eye talking. While networking our way through the attending crowd, we took the opportunity to follow the guided tours that were organised as a special feature of the evening learning a lot about the history and the renovation of the building. I am now looking forward to attend a concert there very soon!
Have a great weekend.
The week that was…