Asia, Excellence Awards, Impact

We began working on the River of Life in 2012 when Kuala Lumpur City Hall opened the original design competition to international participants with the goal of finding a world class, sustainable and contextually relevant solution for the iconic urban transformation project.

The project provided an opportunity to demonstrate our strengths while being involved in creating an important urban landmark for Malaysia — not just for today’s generation, but also for those in years to come. It was a chance to step forward with progressive and executable ideas. Potentially, the River of Life project will impact many lives positively and will bring enduring benefits to the city as a whole.

As the winning firm tasked to deliver the project, today, we have teams from Malaysia and Singapore working on this project — from the points of design, master planning, architecture, engineering, infrastructure, environment and economics — demonstrating cohesiveness in collaboration and passion for delivery excellence.

The works are progressing well and the team working on the River of Life project is a highly motivated bunch — motivated to do well for themselves, their team, the client, and the communities that will benefit from the project.

As director of the overall project, I often interact with team members of all levels. In our conversations, we also talk about what motivates them to succeed and deliver excellence.


What I keep hearing is that their involvement since the conceptual development stage of the project has increased their commitment to seeing the many unique pieces coming together and how each of the team members plays a role in making that happen. It is worth noting that the scale and complex nature of this project means different team members have unique views of the “big picture.”

For example, Mark Vergara, technical director, environment, who leads a group that oversees the environmental aspects, believes that the client’s trust in AECOM makes him proud of the work we are doing and motivates him to challenge the norm. For instance, the client’s receptiveness to innovative ideas allows the team to take their creativity several notches above standard solutions for the design. Mark’s work in this process includes flood modelling, water sensitive urban design, biodiversity enhancement, habitat creation and sustainability.

The lead for signage and wayfinding, Giles Clement, associate, landscape design, design + planning, economics, looks forward to seeing how his work will be used by locals and visitors and how the community will benefit from them. He states that AECOM’s wayfinding system, which covers the entire site, will be the most comprehensive ever found in the Malaysian capital. Designed with the community in mind, the system makes it easy for people to find their way around the river, a noteworthy achievement for the team.

Seetha Raghupathy, project manager for River of Life Urban Design Guidelines (Package 1A), believes the team’s work has enduring importance as what we are delivering addresses not just existing but also future conditions. She also encourages team members to continually think for the client and the community. She expressed that our involvement in developing a robust set of urban design guidelines means AECOM has the opportunity to meaningfully steer the nature of private developments within this iconic piece of public space in Kuala Lumpur, ensuring that urban progress and community development go hand in hand.


Michael Barry, who is responsible for appointing subconsultants and is project manager for four of the ten construction packages, finds the level of collaboration and diversity within the project a powerful factor. To him, this has resulted in a continuous transfer of knowledge between the local and international team members — from the standpoints of technical know-how to the culture and history of the project site.

Our collective passion and winning attitude towards this project are reflected in some of the recent accolades that it has received, including AECOM’s 2014 Excellence Award for Best Win and the Awards for Excellence 2014 at the 50th International Society of City and Regional Planners congress in Gdynia, Poland. Needless to say, this is the kind of enthusiasm expected for something as positively transformational as the River of Life.


Scott_Dunn_89x100_BWScott Dunn, AECOM director of development, vice president, South East Asia, directs multidisciplinary teams on the design of mixed-use, new communities and high-density master plan developments across Asia. He is an advocate of sustainable land development and high-density urban environmental design and believes that in order to create great places, one should be sensitive to both the environment and the society that lives in it.
LinkedIn: Scott Dunn

Scott Dunn

Originally published Nov 10, 2014

Author: Scott Dunn

Scott Dunn, head of strategy & growth for the Asia Region, is an urban planner and city integrator who leads cross-functional inter-disciplinary teams in providing integrated services and sustainable solutions for large, complex and multidisciplinary projects across the region. Scott also drives the River Restoration and Integrated Coastal Management Practice Initiative, delivering integrated watershed solutions across our water infrastructure business.