Demolition of the aged wooden section of St Rose’s High was agreed only after all options for preserving the building were explored and once demolition has occurred the new edifice would take around two years.
This was disclosed yesterday by Kenrick Thomas, Chair of the Board of Governors of the school in a statement. He did not say exactly when demolition will begin. The planned demolition had raised questions about whether the possibility of preserving the building erected in 1925 had been considered.
In the statement, the Board of Governors said it wished to inform the general public that the demolition of the School’s timber building facing Church Street will commence shortly and will be limited only to the aged wooden section that is in a state of disrepair.
“This decision was taken only after extensive consultations over many years to determine the viability of retaining this edifice because of its historical importance and architectural integrity. After much deliberation and with the primary goal being to provide a safe, up to date and innovative building for the development of our students, and only after exploring every option to preserve the building was the decision unhappily taken to demolish the structure. It has served its purpose well and all who have had the opportunity to walk its halls will attest to the very special memories created there.
“Built almost entirely of wood … the building is now structurally incapable of providing a safe environment for the over 700 students that now utilize the facility. Because of this, the auditorium has not been used as a general meeting hall for the last five years and the building was evacuated completely during the last year to ensure that there would be no mishaps”, the statement added.
According to the statement, the intended new structure will incorporate many aspects of the original design. It will integrate the design of the Marion and other wings on the property including retention of the green space courtyard area, a unique feature of the school. The reconstruction is intended to occur immediately following the demolition and is expected to last for approximately 24 months with all demolition and reconstruction companies being selected in accordance with the National Procurement guidelines and procedures.
During deliberations over the last several years, the Board of Governors says it consulted all relevant stakeholders: the Nuns of the Ursuline Convent, PTA, Alumni Associations, students, teachers, the National Trust, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Social Cohesion, the Ministry of Finance and all others with direct or indirect impact on this decision, and when presented with the evidence, “all agreed that we must take the tough decision to look towards the future and incorporate the very best of modern design and `green’ architectural approaches for a building that will stand as an example for future educational design in Guyana”.
The statement added that tenders were put out regionally and the winning bid went to a Trinidadian firm with strong Guyanese roots for the architectural design and consulting services. Guyanese-born Orin Hinds is a member of the team representing Bynoe, Rowe & Wiltshire, the partnership entrusted with designing, providing the relevant documents and managing and overseeing the project’s execution.
The Board of Governors is also utilizing independent engineers to ensure the delivery of the agreed final design which would take into full account the aesthetics in keeping with the expectations of the stakeholders, the history of the structure and adherence to local and international environmental and building codes and standards.
The statement added that faculty and students will be relocated to various safe areas on the School’s premises away from the cordoned construction area.