This article appeared in the August 2020 issue of ARCHITECT.
In 2018, the Government of Jamaica and the country’s Urban Development Corp. launched a design competition for a new Houses of Parliament building in Kingston’s National Heroes Park, which garnered submissions from 24 international teams. After a two-stage, 18-month-long deliberation, the jury and the people’s choice vote selected “Out of Many, One People”; the winning team presented the final design development this past January.
Led by architect Evan Williams, founder of Kingston-based Design Collaborative, the team includes design architect Daimian Hines, AIA, founder of Hines Architecture + Design; project manager Christopher Bent, Assoc. AIA; and technical consultant Gregory Lake, AIA. Hines, Bent, and Lake are all based in Houston.
Situated on an 11.4-acre parcel within Heroes Park, the design centers around a roughly 160,000-square-foot circular structure—embodying equity within Jamaica’s Commonwealth government. “For visitors, developers, and citizens, this building should have no front, no side, no back,” Hines says. A ring of X-shaped columns wraps the building’s 300-foot perimeter—a dynamic spatial representation of both the Jamaican flag and the bond between the nation’s voters and their elected officials. “Figuratively and literally, I wanted [those] to be the pillars of the building,” Hines, who grew up in Jamaica’s St. Mary Parish, says.
In addition to chambers for the Senate and the House of Representatives, the structure includes atria and galleries. The landscape design for the surrounding park features local, drought-resistant plants.
Using models, renderings, and virtual reality, the team shared the initial plans with stakeholders, incorporating feedback and making changes—to column scale and outdoor programming, for example—based on their, and the community’s, input. “Design is objective when there are enough voices at the table to provide inputs to make any design approach stronger,” Hines says.
With Williams and his firm Design Collaborative leading the construction phase, the project is slated to break ground in 2021. And despite building constraints during the COVID-19 pandemic, “this is one of those projects that we must continue,” Hines says. “It’s vital to the identity of the country and the direction Jamaica wants to go.”
Project: Jamaican Houses of Parliament, Kingston, Jamaica
Design Architect: Hines Architecture + Design
Executive Architect: Design Collaborative
Landscape Architect: OJB Landscape Architecture
Structural Engineer: Buro Happold
Civil Engineer: Vogt Engineering
MEP Engineer: DBR Engineering Consultants