Thu | Apr 2, 2020

Construction to begin for new Parliament building in early 2021

Published:Friday | January 31, 2020 | 12:11 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer

Construction of Jamaica’s first purpose-built Parliament is set to begin in the first quarter of 2021.

The details were revealed during a Houses of Parliament and Government Campus Project update meeting and tree planting ceremony, held yesterday at National Heroes Park in Kingston.

Following the completion of the design competition, which was hosted by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), ‘Out of Many, One People’ emerged as the winning design.

UDC Senior Project Manager Leighton Whyte said the new Parliament building and the transformation of the 52-acre park is part of the master plan to redevelop downtown Kingston.

“The architects are scheduled to finish their construction drawings by June of this year, and following that, we will have a few months of procurement, where we will look for a contractor to implement the project,” Whyte explained.

The parliamentary building will include, among other things, a public gallery Senate, a public gallery House, conference rooms, offices, a media room, a library, a museum, and a café.

The senior project manager said the projects would redound to the benefit the community as “they will see an upgraded park that they will still have access to”.

Whyte said that Government Campus, the bigger project that will take into account the housing communities and establishments around the perimeter of Heroes Circle, is still in its early stages.

“Those consultations are ongoing. We are now in feasibility and technical assessments, and we will come into the communities ... and we will ensure that whatever is done or designed will be in keeping with the values of the community,” Whyte said.

JAMAICA’S STORY

Gregory Lake, one of the architects from the winning team, said the design for the park, which will share space with the parliamentary building, tells parts of Jamaica’s story.

The main water feature is aimed at illustrating the phrase long attributed to Jamaica – the land of wood and water.

“We also wanted to create different spaces that honour our national heroes. We have the shrine here, and that’s important, [and] we wanted to maintain that,” Lake said, adding that other areas such as the Cenotaph would be blended with the new plan.

The park will also feature a jogging trail, and the northern area will be a green space dedicated to recreational activities.

In keeping with the ‘three million trees in three years’ initiative launched by the prime minister last year, 100 trees, including the Lignum Vitae, Blue Mahoe, and Guango were planted in the park.

UDC General Manager Heather Pinnock reiterated that the goal is to make development happen sustainably.

“The National Heroes Park will see the planting of a total of over a thousand trees, contributing not only to this initiative, but also to the development and creation of more green spaces in Jamaica,” Pinnock said.

The trees will be maintained by the Parks and Gardens Division of the National Solid Waste Management Authority.

judana.murphy@gleanerjm.com