Old and new get top honours for design and construction

Elmslie, Camana Bay get inaugural Governor’s Awards

With a decision too difficult to make, the panel of judges for the inaugural Governor’s Award for Design and Construction Excellence in the Cayman Islands gave two projects top honours during a ceremony at the Government House on Thursday, 2 December.

Elmslie Memorial Church and the Camana Bay Town Centre each received awards, with one project representing Cayman’s past and the other Cayman’s present.

Elmslie, located on Harbour Drive in George Town, was completed in 1922.

Kris Bergstrom, vice president of the Cayman Contractors Association, introduced the seven short-listed projects selected from 34 total submissions for the award.

“When completed in 1922, Elmslie Memorial Church was the most impressive structure in the Cayman Islands,” he said. “A testament to its architecture and builders, it has been tested by time and has withstood many hurricanes unscathed.”

The church, was designed by R. Gilles of Scotland, and built by two Caymanian master shipbuilders, Rayal B. Bodden and Roland Bodden, for The United Church in Jamaica. The National Trust declared Elmslie a building of historic interest in 1996.

“New technology for Cayman at the time was introduced with the use of reinforced concrete and concrete block work, which set the stage for concrete and masonry in Cayman as we know it today,” Mr. Bergstrom said.

Named after the Rev. James Elmslie, the church’s design – in particular the roof structure – pays tribute to Cayman’s ship building industry, with the long spans of the roof resembling the upturned hull of a schooner, he noted.

Joan Wilson, whose two uncles were the builders of the church, accepted the award on behalf of the family.

The Town Centre is the core of Camana Bay, a multi-decade, planned new urbanist community. A team of more than 20 international and local companies helped design and construct the Town Centre.

“The centre displays design excellence not only in its architectural beauty and detail, but in the way it was designed,” Mr. Bergstrom said, “taking into account Caymanian plant and animal life, and replicating those items throughout as part of building details, landscaping and lighting fixtures. Local materials were used throughout, as well as extensive use of native plants. The watch tower features a 40-foot-high mural reflecting the things one would see at the same depth below the ocean’s surface.”

Mr. Bergstrom said public open space called the The Paseo in the Town Centre has “become the centre of arts and cultural events for the entire community”.

Local companies employed by the developer Cayman Shores Development Ltd in the construction and design of the Town Centre included The Burns Conolly Group Ltd, Fluor Daniel Caribbean Inc, DECCO Ltd, and McAlpine Ltd.

Garth Arch, president of the Cayman Society of Architects, Surveyors and Engineers – which along with the Cayman Contractors Association and the Office of the Governor launched the Governor’s Award initiative – said the award aimed “to honour the work of the most talented project teams and their indispensable contribution to the development of these islands”.

“It is our hope that this prestigious award will not only acknowledge excellence, but that it will also inspire us to embark on new challenges and innovations which will ultimately contribute to the advancement of Cayman’s built environment,” he said.

Governor Duncan Taylor, who spoke briefly at the beginning of the ceremony and then later announced the winners, said he was only too happy to lend his name to the award when he was asked.

“I didn’t have to think too long,” he said. “I thought it was a really terrific idea.”

The other five short-listed nominees for the Governor’s Award included Lighthouse Point; the Legislative Assembly Building; the West Indian Club Garden Project; Cotton Tree Cottages; and Waters Edge.

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