Mon | Jul 16, 2018

Wrong to sideline Jamaican architects

Published:Tuesday | March 21, 2017 | 12:04 AMHugh M. Dunbar



As has been the practice for some decades by successive governments, 'development' funding is sought overseas rather than creating sufficient local economic traction to enable us to build those things that reflect our achievements and aspirations, selling off our resources and placing our heritage in danger of receivership.

In this case, the Chinese, whose benevolence is now second to none, have come forward to gift us 'our Parliament' building. I cannot, in good conscience, say that this excites or fills me with patriotism, since I would rather hold Parliament at Jamnesia in Bull Bay, a place built by Jamaican hands, creativity and determination, or at Ronnie's in Wicky Wacky, or even Little Copa, all places that Jamaicans designed, built and maintain.

I wholeheartedly concur with the opinions expressed by the College of Fellows of the Jamaican Institute of Architects regarding the design and construction of the proposed new Parliament building, and believe the entire country should stand with us to demand that civic projects of this type and magnitude be done by Jamaican architects and builders - if not completely, then primarily, by us.

Over the years, architecture and architects in Jamaica have become sidelined by a public misconception that architecture is some sort of luxury to benefit only the wealthy and well-off. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Nothing speaks more to this than the national stadium done by Jamaican architect Wilson Chong, and the Sagicor headquarters building done by H.D. Repole. Unfortunately, opportunities to be developers of national expressions are more often than not circumvented by the politics of convenience, which shuns the use of open competition to select designs from among the best of local architects for major civic projects.