Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Patricia E. Green | Don't push local architects to fringes

Published:Sunday | March 26, 2017 | 3:00 AM
Patricia Green
Construction under way on the perimeter wall at National Heroes Park, where the new Parliament complex will be built.
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The prestigious Caribbean School of Architecture (CSA) in the Faculty of the Built Environment at the University of Technology, Jamaica, has been mentioned repeatedly in a spate of Gleaner articles concerning the future of its graduates.

As the only School of Architecture in the English Caribbean that carries international validation from the Commonwealth Association of Architects, the CSA continues to prepare with success, work-ready individuals for Jamaica, the Caribbean and the world. International students comprise about 25 per cent of enrollees, and our CSA graduates are sought after, with many receiving scholarships globally, and employment with major firms locally and abroad. Significantly, many have also become entrepreneurs of architectural and related enterprises worldwide.

An undergraduate degree is the beginning of the architecture educational journey. Any student of architecture from the CSA or internationally with an undergraduate degree must continue into the professional degree with internship. After these, it is necessary to do an examination to become registered and obtain a licence to practise as an architect. The same applies to medical doctors and attorneys-at-law.

Likewise, the architect licence is a legal instrument essential to protect and safeguard the public in the context of the built environment, and to handle the complexity and strictures of the development process.

 

LICENCE ISSUE

 

Significantly, an architect who has been licensed to practise in one environment is unable to carry out projects in another jurisdiction. The architect must have a local license. In the USA, for example, a licence from Florida is invalid in California, although some states have reciprocity. A Jamaican licence is invalid across all international jurisdictions. To practise in any other locality, the architect is required first to sit those professional examinations to obtain its local licence before being able to operate there.

With its international validation, all graduates with a professional architecture degree from the CSA may enter any global architecture environment and do the necessaries to obtain the requisite practice licence. Therefore, the CSA wishes to adjust the perspective suggested by Gleaner article 'Ten years wasted producing architects for export' to emphasise the economic potential of a degree from the Caribbean School of Architecture as an exportable commodity that is not wasted.

The question inevitably looms: Do successive governments recognise the value of Jamaican architects as a commodity for development of our country? Further, what incentives have the various governments offered to the students pursuing architectural studies about a future to help shape the Jamaican built environment?

Speak with any student at the Caribbean School of Architecture and understand that they aspire to use their creativity and design abilities to give back to their country. Are we enabling or engendering an environment that allows our aspiring Jamaican architects a future to make their mark in our society?

Annually, the CSA interfaces with governments and private sector in Jamaica and across the Caribbean to earmark real-world projects for our Design Studio component. Approximately 30 CSA students recently visited Guadeloupe under the distinguished patronage of the ambassador of France and conducted an urban study of Pointe-a-Pitre to assist their people and Government.

Likewise, about 40 CSA students conducted studies of St George's, Grenada, and this work will augment developments by the Grenadian government. These CSA study tours abroad will be on display March 30 during the UTech Research Innovation and Technology Day.

Stemming from our urban studies of Kingston and its environs in consultation with all the relevant governmental agencies, private sector, and civil society, the urban study for last year was on National Heroes Park and its environs. The CSA, therefore, recommends to the Government that Heroes Park remain as an open public space, without any buildings added to it.

The question is reiterated here as published in the Gleaner: 'Aren't we good enough, PM'?

 

IN AGREEMENT WITH LETTER

 

The CSA fully endorses the open letter in The Gleaner two weeks ago from the College of Fellows of the Jamaican Institute of Architects to the prime minister over the Parliament Building issue. We also advise that last year, the Master of Architecture professional degree programme students designed a new Parliament building and other government offices around Heroes Park.

How distressing to learn from the media that the Government has signed away a Jamaican birthright design for a future Parliament building to the People's Republic of China!

Prime Minister, the Caribbean School of Architecture had been waiting for this building to be announced as an architectural completion, in which our students would have been able to participate. Surely that would have been a just legacy to the people of Jamaica, especially over the investment of parents and guarantors whose time and funding have seeded the education of our architectural students?

We extend an open invitation, Prime Minister, and to your Cabinet to visit our school to view the wealth of architecture talent that resides locally.

- Patricia E. Green, PhD, is head of the Caribbean School of Architecture at UTech. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and patgreen2008@gmail.com.