Glass House architect visits

Ministry of Planning officials were surprised recently by a visit by Glass House architect Richard Brandon.

Mr. Brandon took a break from his cruise ship vacation to meet with Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Planning, Kearney Gomez and Special Projects Coordinator Tristan Hydes at the Government Administration Building, known as the Glass House by many residents, said a GIS press release.

Mr. Brandon’s architectural firm, Rutkowski Bradford and Partners, of Jamaica won a Caribbean wide (including South Florida) regional architectural competition in the early ’70s to design the Legislative Assembly and Courts building. These buildings were completed in 1972 and 1973 respectively. The firm also designed Cayman’s first Government Administration Building which opened in 1975. Known as one of the leading architects in the Caribbean, Mr. Brandon continues to work on projects in Jamaica.

When asked to explain why he designed a ‘Glass House, the architectural pioneer said: ‘At the time George Town had a lot of trees and only a few buildings. I thought the glass would give a nice reflection of the trees. During the day the reflection would change according to the light. At night I also envisioned that the lights from inside would make the building glow like a lantern.’

CGMJ Ltd partner, architect Arek Joseph, a longtime friend and colleague of Mr. Brandon, commented on the significance of the buildings to the Cayman Islands. ‘In the early ’70s, Cayman was a nation emerging from its chrysalis and the Glass House, along with the Courts and Legislative Assembly buildings, were modern and shining statements of a proud, developing nation.’

He explained that government at the time had just decided against independence from England and the nation was embarking on the path to build the foundations of government infrastructure, starting with the buildings to house the judicial, legislative and administrative arms of government.

Although the Glass House has become a landmark in George Town it will eventually be replaced by a new Government Administration Building to be erected on the site adjoining the current building. Groundbreaking for the new building is planned for this month. Mr. Gomez personally invited Mr Brandon to visit Cayman in 2010 when the new building is planned to open.

Before leaving to continue his short visit to the island, Mr. Brandon gave a few parting words of inspiration for local architects. ‘If you’re to be a creative architect you must anticipate change that will take place ahead of you.’ Fitting words from a man whose buildings for over 30 years have been the seat of government in the Cayman Islands.