(JAMAICA OBSERVER) — Described as the most significant structure to be built in the history of Jamaica, the new Houses of Parliament building will occupy a place of prominence at National Heroes Park in Kingston.
The facility, on which construction will commence in 2021, will provide a fitting edifice for the legislature to work together to benefit the entire country, in keeping with the national motto, ‘Out of Many, One People’, which is the title of the winning design for the structure.
The Design Collective Team concept features an interconnected building with space to accommodate a football field and an area for outdoor movie viewing.
It was chosen after a competitive process, undertaken over 10 months, to identify the most fitting design representing the significance of the structure.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness launched the Houses of Parliament Design Competition in May 2018, which was open to all registered Jamaican architects or teams based locally or abroad.
Holness had noted that the Government is intent on constructing a Parliament building that all Jamaicans can be proud of, and that putting forward a design competition brought democracy to the process.
“The design competition was a creative design methodology to help to determine how the Houses of Parliament building will represent Jamaica’s rich heritage while considering the future needs of our society. The look, role and function of the Parliament building will provide a beacon of leadership that we think is prudent to encourage nationalism and signal the sovereignty of our people and the empowering of our State to exercise the will of the people of Jamaica,” he said.
The ‘Out of Many, One People’ design was also the favourite of the general public, copping the People’s Choice award.
Holness, who announced the winner during a ceremony at National Heroes Park in March, praised the participants for embarking on a “long but rewarding” journey of designing a Parliamentary building that will not just be an edifice but a “working building” of iconic value that will become a tourist attraction.
Noted architect Evan Williams, who led the winning Design Collective Team, said the victory is “quite an honour”, and comes after 50 years in the profession.
He said the title of the design, ‘Out of Many, One People’, is very fitting, noting that it represents in form and in structure, all Jamaicans.
Team member, Daimian Hines told JIS News that he is happy particularly for Williams, who, for the past five decades, has been creating employment through his local and international architecture operations.
A distinguished architect with his own business, Hines, who grew up in Jamaica but now resides in the United States of America, said he is grateful for this “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to design the centre of government for my home country; I’m extremely happy”.
“This design can compete with any architecture across the globe, and it’s here in Jamaica. I am excited about that because we are known for our music, we are known for our food, we are known for our culture, but we are talented in architecture too. We just need opportunities to show our talent – this (competition) was the perfect thing,” he said.
In the meantime, Patron of the competition, Gordon Gill, thanked the prime minister for his vision and commitment in embarking on this historical feat.
“I feel that I am somehow witness to the dawn of a new era… . I believe this project is a catalyst for much more than just a building,” he said, noting that it could not have been easy to make one selection from the thoughtful design concepts.
Jury chair for the competition, Mark Raymond, said the group enjoyed judging the entries, noting that it was “a really wonderful experience to see the sheer creative imagination that went into these designs”.
“The competitors had a difficult job – the design of a Parliament building is a complex challenge… a lot of conflicting demands to contend with… and they also had to address what a building like this means, the importance and significance of a Parliament building,” he said.
Raymond said all the entrants rose to this “monumental challenge” admirably, with great creative passion.
He praised the Government for embarking on the competition and inviting pools of talented architects to come together, noting that he would like to see processes like this continue in the future.
“We have the resources. There are Jamaican/Caribbean architects who are all enormously talented, as this competition has demonstrated,” he said.
The winner was chosen from an initial 24 submissions. The entrants were narrowed down to the top five, who were each awarded $2 million for advancing to the second stage of the competition. They then submitted more detailed design plans and models in December.
The winner will now finalise the design, which Holness said is expected to be completed by April 2020.
With an additional cash prize of $5 million, the top team has won a total of $7 million.
The Ravi Sittol-led team placed second for its ‘The Grand Verandah’ concept earning an additional $4 million, while the third-place team led by Damion Edmond received an additional $2 million for its ‘Ubuntu’ design.
With the competition out of the way, work to establish the new Parliament building will now begin in earnest.
The Houses of Parliament Design Competition was implemented by the Urban Development Corporation. The new structure forms part of the National Heroes Park Redevelopment and Government Campus Project, which is a component of a master plan to redevelop downtown Kingston.