Walkers breaks new ground

Offshore law firm Walkers will redefine the George Town skyline once construction of its new offices is completed in January 2009.

Located in Elgin Avenue next to Cayman National Bank, the ambitious seven-storey, 100,000-square-foot project is a reflection of the company’s unprecedented growth in the past five years, according to Head of Global Services Grant Stein.

‘There was no building in Cayman that met our criteria, so we decided to have our own built,’ he said.

The plans have the capacity to add an extra 50,000-square feet of building space if necessary.

Deputy Head of Global Services Wayne Panton said the project will cost about US$31 million for both building and land.

‘This building represents a massive commitment to the Cayman Islands and confirms our long-term loyalty to the firm’s home jurisdiction and worldwide headquarters,’ he said.

The firm has 280 people on staff. The size of the building allows not only for two years of growth up to 2009, it also takes in to account projected expansion in personnel numbers beyond that year.

The offices will be built using a chamfered block design, which will wrap around a full-height central atrium giving every office natural light.

Each of its seven floors will share this open internal volume so that, once inside, visitors witness Walkers headquarters as an integrated working unit.

State-of-the-art environmental control features are a key aspect of the design. These will provide long-term energy savings and include motion activated lighting, solar water heating and solar blinds to track and shield the sun’s passage overhead.

The building is Category 5 hurricane resistant with angled corners and sloping parapets to distribute wind load, and parking on the ground floor with offices above, office floor elevations starting at 14 feet above road level – to prevent office flooding.

Workplace enhancements include shared centralised facilities on each floor including breakout areas and meeting rooms, internal landscaped staff areas with outsourced café/dining facilities, and a shared client area, states a Walkers release

While overseas representation on the build consists of architects Sall, Cullinan Architects Ltd (UK) in conjunction with Woods Bagot (UK), Atelier Ten Ltd – mechanical engineering and plumbing (UK/US) and Dewhurst McFarlane and Partners (UK/US/T&T) – structural engineering, the project is utilising the expertise of several local firms.

McAlpine Ltd heads up the local team as the build’s general contractors, while project management is overseen by Vista Development Co. Ltd.

DDL Studio Ltd, as the project’s quantity surveyors have been responsible for obtaining planning approvals, liaison with government and statutory agencies, the construction administration and the cost management for the entire project.

The firm’s current local staffing complement is 280.