Dr Cheong Koon Hean is the CEO of the Housing and Development Board (HDB) overseeing the development and management of some 1 million public housing flats in 26 towns/estates. She introduced a new generation of public housing towns that are well-designed, community-centric, sustainable and smart; and also developed a comprehensive framework to develop a more sustainable built environment. Under the leadership of the Housing and Development Board, a new concept of planning urban areas has emerged, which includes implementation of all the necessary infrastructure and transport systems. The term "satellite city" is applied to the areas of this type. The peculiarity of buildings constructed in such areas is the placement of terraces for maintaining social interaction between neighbors on each floor. The Board has already provided affordable housing for 90 percent of Singaporeans. Thanks to the work of the Board, Singapore has become a leader by the number of people who have their own housing among the most developed countries with a market economy.
Dr Cheong was also the CEO of the Urban Redevelopment Authority from 2004 to 2010 and Deputy Secretary of the Ministry for National Development from 2001 to 2015. She has contributed extensively to urban planning, urban design and conservation plans as well as to real estate policies in Singapore. She was a key driver of major development projects including the Marina Bay city extension and also led the master planning of the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City.
In addition to being a Fellow(Life) of the Singapore Institute of Architects and a Fellow of the Institute of Planners, Dr Cheong is a current Council Member and former Deputy President of the International Federation for Housing and Planning (IFHP) and global board trustee of the international Urban Land Institute (ULI). She has served on various expert panels including the World Economic Forum’s Real Estate and Urbanisation Global Agenda Council and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). She is also the Chairman of the Nominating Committee of the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize and is the Tan Swan Beng Endowed Professor in Nanyang Technological University.
A multiple award winner, some of her key awards include the Gold and Meritorious Service Medals for outstanding public service, the University of Newcastle’s Convocation Medal and honorary doctorate for professional excellence and the 2010 International Women Forum’s ‘Women Who Make A Difference’ Prize. In 2016, she became the first Asian to be conferred the Urban Land Institute Prize for Urban Visionaries and the Lynn S Beedle Lifetime Achievement Award by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH). In 2018, she was appointed the SR Nathan Fellow by the Institute of Policy Studies, National University of Singapore.
Dr Cheong has degrees in Architecture (First Class Honours and University Gold Medal, University of Newcastle), a Masters degree in Development Planning (University College London) and has completed the Advanced Management Programme (Harvard Business School).