Frank Dorrington Ward



Frank Dorrington Ward (b. 17 April 1885, Hastings, England–d. 1972) was chief architect of the Public Works Department in the Straits Settlements from 1928 to 1939.1 Prominent landmarks designed by Ward include the former Kallang Airport terminal building, Clifford Pier, former Supreme Court building (now National Gallery Singapore), as well as the Hill Street Police Station, which now houses the Ministry of Communications and Information.

Early life
Ward studied at Kent College in Canterbury, England, until he was about 18. He became an associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1909, and also joined the London County Council’s architectural department that year.2 

From 1915 to 1919, Ward served in the Royal Engineers of the British Army, and left the corps as a lieutenant.

Career and key contributions in Singapore and Malaya
Ward moved to the Straits Settlements in 1920 and became chief assistant architect in the Public Works Department.4 In 1923 he helped to found the Singapore Society of Architects (later renamed Institute of Architects of Malaya).5

In 1939, he became a fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects. At the time, he was chief architect in the government service.6

Custom House, Clifford Pier and Drill Hall

Designed by Ward, the former Custom House building on Maxwell Road opened in 1932 and was used by the government until 1989.7 Now known as Maxwell Chambers, it houses an international arbitration centre.8

Clifford Pier at Collyer Quay was also designed by Ward. Officially opened in 1933, it replaced the smaller, aging Johnston’s Pier. A notable feature of Clifford Pier was the hall’s arched ceiling, across which concrete trusses formed an attractive ribbon pattern.9 Clifford Pier was closed in 2006 when sea traffic moved to Marina South Pier.10 The gazetted national monument has today become part of the Fullerton Heritage precinct.11

Commonly called the Drill Hall, the headquarters of the Singapore Volunteer Corps was another major project by Ward.12 Opened in early 1933, it included offices with sea view, social facilities, as well as a 140-foot-long column-free drill hall with a 40-foot-high barrel-vaulted ceiling. Decorating the exterior was an elegant vertical window that incorporated the regimental badge and overlooked Beach Road.13 The buildings subsequently served as a military camp until 2000. Block 9, which contains the column-free drill hall, was gazetted for conservation in 2002.14

Police stations and hospital
A number of former police buildings in Singapore were designed by Ward, with the most notable being the Hill Street Police Station and Barracks. Built in 1934, the six-storey structure was the largest government building at the time. The police station occupied the ground floor, while the upper floors served as the living quarters of almost 1,000 single and married policemen.15 There were also two internal courtyards in the building.16 The police vacated the building in 1980, and it has since been used by various statutory bodies. Currently, its main occupant is the Ministry of Communications and Information. The building was gazetted as a national monument in 1998.17

Another notable building by Ward was the Robinson Road police station which once housed the Criminal Investigation Department.18 Ward was also responsible for designing Malaya’s most modern hospital in the 1930s. Completed in 1934, Malacca General Hospital had a ward named Dorrington Ward in his honour.19

Former Kallang Airport terminal building
To divert commercial flights from the Royal Air Force’s Seletar Air Base, work began on Singapore’s first civil airport in 1932. The two-storey terminal building combined elements of Art Deco and modernism with green windows and walls of transparent glass.20 To some observers, the cylindrical glass control tower resembled an elevated cockpit, while the flanking parallel concrete roof slabs and floors evoked the wings of a biplane.21

Opened in 1937, Kallang Airport was hailed as one of the finest airports in Asia and the British Empire. However, with the rapid growth in commercial aviation, the airport was outgrown and replaced 18 years later.22 From 1960, the terminal building served as the People’s Association’s headquarters till 2010, when it was relocated to another building designed by Ward – the former Victoria School building in Jalan Besar built in 1933.23

Supreme Court
In contrast to the former Kallang Airport’s modernity, Ward also designed the former Supreme Court, a building designed in the neo-classical style.24

Ward drafted at least eight different proposals for the former Supreme Court. The successful plan featured four blocks surrounding a circular domed library, with a much larger dome over the portico and columns at the front.25 To minimise the effect of traffic noise, Ward did not locate rooms overlooking High Street.26

Britain’s rearmament drive resulted in a shortage of steel and delayed the Supreme Court’s construction until 1937.27 At its opening in August 1939, the building was acclaimed as Ward’s masterpiece and Malaya’s finest building. It featured Rodolfo Nolli’s figurative sculptures on the facade and Corinthian columns, and its design complemented the facade of the neighbouring Municipal Building (later renamed City Hall).28 Both buildings were gazetted as national monuments in 1992 and vacated in 2005.29 The National Gallery Singapore opened at the two national monuments in November 2015.30

Retirement
Ward left Singapore on 25 August 1939 after almost 20 years with the Public Works Department. In 1941, he was conferred the Order of the British Empire (civil division) for his contributions.31



Authors

Duncan Sutherland & Neo Tiong Seng



References
1. Who's who in Malaya, 1939: A biographical record of prominent members of Malaya's community in official, professional and commercial circles. (1939). Singapore: Fishers Ltd., p. 138. (Call no.: RCLOS 920.9595 WHO-[RFL]); Dictionary of Scottish Architects. (2016). Frank Dorrington Ward. Retrieved 2016, November 2 from Dictionary of Scottish Architects 1660–1980 website: http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/architect_full.php?id=207660
2. Who's who in Malaya, 1939: A biographical record of prominent members of Malaya's community in official, professional and commercial circles. (1939). Singapore: Fishers Ltd., p. 138. (Call no.: RCLOS 920.9595 WHO-[RFL]); Dictionary of Scottish Architects. (2016). Frank Dorrington Ward. Retrieved 2016, November 2 from Dictionary of Scottish Architects 1660–1980 website: http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/architect_full.php?id=207660
3. Who's who in Malaya, 1939: A biographical record of prominent members of Malaya's community in official, professional and commercial circles. (1939). Singapore: Fishers Ltd., p. 138. (Call no.: RCLOS 920.9595 WHO-[RFL])
4. Who's who in Malaya, 1939: A biographical record of prominent members of Malaya's community in official, professional and commercial circles. (1939). Singapore: Fishers Ltd., p. 138. (Call no.: RCLOS 920.9595 WHO-[RFL])
5. Wider scope of activity. (1931, May 6). The Malaya Tribune, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Dictionary of Scottish Architects. (2016). Frank Dorrington Ward. Retrieved 2016, November 2 from Dictionary of Scottish Architects 1660–1980 website: http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/architect_full.php?id=207660
7. Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 442. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA]); Government of Singapore. (2012, July 30). Customs buildings. Retrieved 2017, May 22 from Immigrations & Checkpoints Authority website: http://www.ica.gov.sg/page.aspx?pageid=213
8. Maxwell Chambers. (2011). [Homepage]. Retrieved 2016, November 4 from Maxwell Chambers website: http://www.maxwell-chambers.com/
9. Pugalenthi, S. (1999). Singapore landmarks: Monuments, memorials, statues & historic sites. Singapore: VJ Times International, pp. 211–212. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 PUG-[HIS]); Wan, M. H., & Lau, J. (2009). Heritage places of Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 16. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 WAN-[HIS])
10. Wan, M. H., & Lau, J. (2009). Heritage places of Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 16. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 WAN-[HIS])
11. Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts. (2010, July 8). Speech by Mr Lui Tuck Yew, Acting Minister for Information, Communication and the Arts, at the opening ceremony of the Fullerton Heritage Gallery, 08 July 2010, 10.15 am at the Fullerton Hotel Singapore. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
12. Who's who in Malaya, 1939: A biographical record of prominent members of Malaya's community in official, professional and commercial circles. (1939). Singapore: Fishers Ltd., p. 138. (Call no.: RCLOS 920.9595 WHO-[RFL])
13. New drill hall for the S.V.C. (1932, March 9). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Ang, H. S. (2002, September 19). Beach Road’s drill hall has been conserved. The Straits Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Urban Redevelopment Authority. (2007). A landmark development. Retrieved 2010, July 26 from Urban Redevelopment Authority website: http://www.ura.gov.sg/sales/BeachRd%28Mar07%29/BeachRd-ALandmarkDev.html
15. Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 370. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA]); National Heritage Board. (2015, December 8). Former Hill Street Police Station. Retrieved 2016, November 8 from Roots website: https://roots.sg/Content/Places/national-monuments/former-hill-street-police-station; Urban Redevelopment Authority. (2016, July 28). No. 140 Hill Street. Retrieved 2016, November 8 from Urban Redevelopment Authority website: https://www.ura.gov.sg/uol/publications/corporate/aha/2001/140-Hill-Street
16. Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 370. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])
17. National Heritage Board. (2015, December 8). Former Hill Street Police Station. Retrieved 2016, November 8 from Roots website: https://roots.sg/Content/Places/national-monuments/former-hill-street-police-station
18. Beamish, J., & Ferguson, J. (1985). A history of Singapore architecture: The making of a city. Singapore: G. Brash, p. 130. (Call no.: RSING 722.4095957 BEA); “Veritas”. (1957, March 3). Designer of City Hall. The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Pitchaimuthu, L. (2001). The origin of the Malacca General Hospital. Melaka, Malaysia: Percetakan Surya, p. 14. (Call no.: RSEA 362.1109595 PIT)
20. Wan, M. H., & Lau, J. (2009). Heritage places of Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, pp. 193–194. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 WAN-[HIS]); Ho, J. (1994, January 13). Old Kallang Airport building restored. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Urban Redevelopment Authority. (2016, July 28). Former Kallang Airport. Retrieved from 2016, November 9 from Urban Redevelopment Authority website: http://www.ura.gov.sg/uol/conservation/conservation-xml.aspx?id=FKA
21. Powell, R. (2004). Singapore architecture. Sydney: Periplus, p. 75. (Call no.: RSING 720.95957 POW)
22. Ho, J. (1994, January 13). Old Kallang Airport building restored. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Ho, J. (1994, January 13). Old Kallang Airport building restored. The Straits Times, p. 2; 9 King George’s Avenue Category B winner. (2009, October 6). The Straits Times, p. 43; Milestones. (1983, October 15). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. National Heritage Board. (2015, December 8). Former Supreme Court. Retrieved 2016, November 8 from Roots website: https://roots.sg/Content/Places/national-monuments/former-supreme-court
25. Liu, G. (1996). In granite and chunam: The national monuments of Singapore. Singapore: Landmark Books and Preservation of Monuments Board, pp. 71–72. (Call no.: RSING 725.94095957 LIU)
26. Thian, Y. S., Chong, C. C., & Lim, S. (Eds.). (2002). In session: Supreme Court Singapore: The building, her heritage and her people. Singapore: Supreme Court, p. 11. (Call no.: RSING 347.5957035 IN); Wan, M. H., & Lau, J. (2009). Heritage places of Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 88. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 WAN-[HIS])
27. National Heritage Board. (2015, December 8). Former Supreme Court. Retrieved 2016, November 8 from Roots website: https://roots.sg/Content/Places/national-monuments/former-supreme-court
28. Finest building in the peninsula. (1939, August 2). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Liu, G. (1996). In granite and chunam: The national monuments of Singapore. Singapore: Landmark Books and Preservation of Monuments Board, pp. 71–72. (Call no.: RSING 725.94095957 LIU)
29. National Heritage Board. (2015, December 8). Former Supreme Court. Retrieved 2016, November 8 from Roots website: https://roots.sg/Content/Places/national-monuments/former-supreme-court; National Heritage Board. (2015, December 8). Former City Hall. Retrieved 2016, November 8 from Roots website: https://roots.sg/Content/Places/national-monuments/former-city-hall
30. National Gallery Singapore. (2016). Building history & heritage. Retrieved 2016, November 9 from National Gallery Singapore website: https://www.nationalgallery.sg/about/building/history
31. Eighteen Malayans receive honours. (1941, January 2). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Ward, Frank Dorrington, 1885-
Architects--Singapore--Biography
Arts>>Architecture>>Public and commercial buildings
Personalities
Personalities>>Biographies
Arts