DR. DAMIAN GRAHAM
THOUGHT LEADERSHIP LUNCHEON
FOCUS: “NATIONAL HEROES PARK-THE SITE OF THE NEW PARLIAMENT BUILDING”.
KINGSTON COLLEGE OLD BOYS ASSOCIATION
KNUTSFORD COURT HOTEL
Mr Michael Vaccianna, Chairman of Kingston College Board
Mr Dave Myrie- Principal of Kingston College
Mr Donovan White – President of Kingston College Old Boys Association
Mr Anthony Allen – Honorary Secretary
Teachers and students of Kingston College
Members of the Media
Specially invited guests
Well-wishers all, Good afternoon,
Jamaica ranks among its neighours in the Caribbean and Western Hemisphere region, as thought leader in the areas of economics, technology, sports science, fashion and gastronomy. Such freedom and power to create exists not only within our cultural heritage but also within our political framework anchored in the Parliament which is responsible for making the laws of the land.
According to the Jamaica Information Service, our Parliament has its roots in the House of Assembly that first met on January 20, 1664 in Spanish Town, then called St. Jago de la Vega, our first capital of Jamaica and the seat of the Government.
However, since Independence in 1962, the country’s legislators have been creating our laws through Gordon House on Duke Street which was originally designed and built for meetings of the municipal council – the Kingston & St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC),
The discomforts experienced over the decades include insufficient space, lack of adequate parking plus facilities to interact with and engage the public
In November 2003, the Oliver Clarke-chaired Parliamentary Salaries Committee presented its report which recommended, among other things, that “a new Parliament Building be constructed to allow for parliamentarians to perform their work efficiently.
Our Prime Minister, the Most Honourable Andrew Holness has indicated that the building of a new Parliament is a symbol of national pride and as such we must invest in making the symbols of Government reflective of the hopes, dreams, ambitions, aspirations of the people.
This is the reason we are here today, to speak on how thoughts can create action.
According to Thought Leadership guru, Steve Pell “Thought leadership equals crazy ideas plus inevitability”. Ladies and gentlemen, we at the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) are not unfamiliar with taking crazy ideas and producing 50 years later global meccas for tourism such as Ocho Rios and Montego Bay hosting millions of adventure seeking tourists. We believe development is not accidental but intentional and requires only one pebble of thought to initiate a crescendo of change.
Wrap around in your mind for a few seconds a sprawling government campus with at least 14 ministries centrally located in one area saving time, cost and reducing inefficiencies while maximizing the impact of government on the lives of people. Imagine further in the centre of that campus lush vegetation skillfully landscaped around artistic monuments symbolically reaching for the sky while providing a glimpse into centuries of struggles and triumphs. Now visualize in the epicenter of that rich mix of heritage, beautiful landscaping and world class facilities a Houses of Parliament, the seat of the nation’s destiny where laws are debated and enacted charting the future course for thousands of generations to come.
Think wider at the positive socio-economic impact this will initiate as the housing stock around Heroes Circle is upgraded and expanded, sewerage systems are rehabilitated, new support businesses are established and transportation hubs radically overhauled. The ripple effects will inundate downtown Kingston and the West Harbourfront area and the wider metropolis with a renewed culture, changed mindsets and new perceptions.
This, friends, is a mental snapshot of a vision that is now coming into reality led by the Urban Development Corporation even as Jamaica is being cemented as the place to live, work, do business and raise families.. Over the last few years, we received a renewed impetus in line with our mandate to make development happen for the people of Jamaica. Mission critical this time is to lead the development of the government’s campus project and as part of that the development of the Houses of Parliament project.
We set out on this new adventure through much research and consultation considering the magnitude of this project and its significant buildout which will take at least 8 years.
This journey reached a significant milestone on Thursday, May 17 when we officially launched the Houses of Parliament Design Competition at the National Heroes Park.
It was jubilation all around as we culminated a process that was embarked upon on different occasions in the past by various groups. Like Kingston College at champs, we never yielded at the different challenges and late hours that the team had to put into ensuring that the best practices in the realms of international design competition were employed in the process.
From May 17 to June 14, 2018 we saw an intense period of public education and advertising utilizing all the tools at our disposal. In the end, the number of entries far exceeded our expectations but I don’t want to divulge too much because we will be doing the big reveal to the public in short order.
Now back to the actual competition, which was strategically opened to qualified and eligible Jamaican architects who are registered and licensed in Jamaica. The Design Competition is being executed in two stages. In stage one, all entries will be assessed by the evaluation jury comprising industry experts and professionals, who will select the top five entries to advance to stage two.
In stage two, the finalists are required to work with a lead architect, who is registered with the Jamaica Institute of Architects, to prepare and provide fully-developed design plans and models following the guidelines laid out in the competition design brief.
We have asked them to submit their best representation of what the new Houses of Parliament should look like. The concept, according to the Competition Design Brief, includes a parliament complex to be located within the confines of the National Heroes Park nestled amongst passive recreational spaces, gardens and green spaces, requiring the entire multi-purpose site to operate as a cohesive cultural and heritage environment. We cannot state how expectant we are of seeing the final winner being revealed in February 2019 in fine style.
Ladies and gentlemen, the rewards will be very enriching, not just the fact that the top five finalists will all receive an award of J$2 million for advancing to stage two of the competition. But the final winner will be given an additional JA$5 million and will get the opportunity to work alongside the contractor as part of the implementation team. Second place entry will be awarded J$4 million whilst third place will be awarded J$2 million.
We have entrusted the decision to evaluate the winners objectively into the hands of some of the best in their profession to include the Chairman of the Association of Commonwealth Societies of Architects Mark Raymond, who is also the chief juror. His able team is completed by Jacquiann Lawton, Head of the Caribbean School of Architecture, University of Technology, Dr. Elizabeth Pigou-Dennis, Associate Professor also from the Caribbean School of Architecture, Dwight Ricketts, President Jamaica Institution of Engineers, Martin Addington, President Jamaica Institute of Planners, Christopher Lue, President Jamaica Institute of Architects, and Richard Picart, Senior Architect, UDC.
We are also mindful that the result of this competition is for the benefit of all Jamaicans regardless of class, creed, gender or political beliefs and so we have a balanced bi-partisan Parliamentary Oversight Committee, chaired by Honourable Karl Samuda, Minister in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation. Team members who serve on this committee also include the Honourable Horace Chang, Minister of National Security, Honourable Marlene Malahoo Forte, Attorney General and Members of Parliament Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert, Phillip Paulwell, Julian Robinson and Natalie Neita.
To top this all off, we have engaged internationally renown architect Gordon Gill to provide guidance during the life of the competition. Mr Gill is a Jamaican-born architect practicing in Chicago and affiliated with Adrian Smith builder of the tallest tower in the world, the Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia
How will all of this be funded you may be asking? Undoubtedly, this is one of the largest and most complex infrastructure development projects to be undertaken by Jamaica since our Independence, therefore a public/private partnership model will be used to realize this vision. Here is an opportunity for those in the diaspora to say to us, we love your grand ideas and plans and we want to come on board in our consortiums and help to build from the ground up. Here is where thought leadership comes into place and proactivity. Visit the zone, engage us beyond the boundaries of our vision, challenge us to think deeper, higher, wider…let us engage in robust conversation around the evolving business of human and capital development.
We are aware that there are still some concerns in the public domain about the siting of the park and a perception that this somehow devalues the use of the space for public good. But in our research, we were guided by the modalities of the King George VI Memorial Act which allows for the allocation of up to 11.4 acres of space for the construction of the Parliament Complex within the Park out of the 50 acres available. The majority of the remaining space is for public use and green spaces. We are committing to staying true to the spirit of the Act as we have done for our wider developments across the island. Think about our work in conserving and developing the Belmont property in St. Ann on which the Dunn’s River property sits as a global eco-tourist hotspot. We also manage the Turtle River Park nearby for over a decade providing recreational space for the public complete with a mini-turtle zone. Added to this, we manage at least seven beaches across the island for many decades
This requires many conversations but like any good artist knows, it is the stroke of thousands of brushes that gives birth to a perfect line. Let us keep stroking the canvas of creativity until the masterpiece is produced and we would have left a legacy of change for our future generations.
Thinking beyond just the Houses of Parliament Competition, the UDC is moving along many other development concepts into reality including the continued modernization of the town of Ocho Rios with an aesthetic promenade along the Marina and Beach and an upgraded streetscape with many other big projects to come on-stream including farmers market and transportation centre. Over in Montego Bay, we are getting ready to break ground in the near future for a 16 acre beach park never seen before in the Caribbean complete with all the recreational amenities befitting an ocean city.
We are thinking big at the UDC and we want you to think big and wide with us… How wide is our ‘thoughtscape’ at this time? We are mentally in Latin America by now….after locally establishing more beach parks and recreational spaces. We are conceptually hosting half a million folks for Fireworks on the Waterfront spread across three cities.
Speaking of cities, we are breaking ground for Jamaica’s Third City and playing a pivotal role in Jamaica taking its place as the fourth logistics hub in the world reaping billions of dollars in investments.
Don’t just dream with us…come see the reality already unfolding before your eyes especially downtown Kingston on the waterfront.
UDC …making development happen since 1968. We are about the Golden GLOW this year… Growth, Love, Opportunities and Wealth.
Thanks for having me