A two-day workshop aimed at saving the historic but decrepit City Hall concluded yesterday with optimism and the expectation that a plan would be available by the end of June from overseas experts.
The event was launched on Wednesday and featured presentations from Francis Maude, the Specialist Conservation Architect, and Ed Morton, whose speciality is structural engineering.
Head of the Guyana National Trust, Nirvana Persaud had explained at the launching of the workshop that the project will focus on preparing a comprehensive restoration and sustainable conservation management plan for City Hall, as well as the City’s Engineer’s Building. It is their hope that the plan will guide the building’s refurbishment and its long-term preservation.
Additionally, a condition assessment and the feasibility analysis will also be done and the plan will include a restoration management plan which will have proposals on how to continuously upkeep the infrastructure.
Yesterday’s session saw a presentation on general topics including links to drawings and schedules of works, links to bills of quantities, materials, workmanship and building specification systems.
The second presentation covered repairs and renovations and subtopics such as demolition and stripping out, shoring and façade retention; repairing concrete, structural timber, structural metal work, joinery and fungus and beetle treatment.
The final presentation of the day looked at specifications for traditional materials. Concrete, brickwork and other masonry; structural timber, iron and steel, roof coverings, joinery, glazing, render and plaster, paint finishes and decorative work were discussed to close the event off.
Morton and Maude had also related that once the restoration plan has been completed, it will be up to City Hall to source the funds to start the works on the 128-year-old building which has been under severe stress. Parts of the building – which also features a concert hall – can no longer be used.
Town Clerk Royston King had stated on Wednesday that an estimate that was done years ago had put the repair works at more than $400 million, which would have increased significantly over time. The city will be exploring a public-private partnership to fund the works and is expected to consult with various stakeholders soon.
Day one of the workshop featured presentations on Damage Assessment and Feasibility for Repair which focused on the different materials which the building was constructed from, such as concrete, steel, structural timber, cast iron and decorative work, and the joinery, such as the windows, doors, and the external and internal features.
They then talked about the roof, floor, glass, decorative finishes and the plaster. The first day of the workshop concluded with a presentation on Disaster Risk Management and Mitigation Strategies, where the effects of water, fire, termites, fungal decay, vandalism and neglect on the building was discussed.
Morton and Maude had emphasized that water damage was one of the major factors behind the current state of the building and its continuous decay.
The workshop which was launched on Wednesday by the CEO of the National Trust of Guyana, Persaud included the Mayor of Georgetown Patricia Chase-Green, the Ambassador of the European Union (EU) Delegation, Jernej Videtic and the Director of Culture of Tamika Boatswain, among the featured speakers. The EU is funding the rehabilitation plan.
For years, there have been calls for concerted action to save the building which is one of the landmarks in the city.