Anatomy of a building

Part I:     Anatomy of a building 

Part II:    Anatomy of a building 

Part III:    Anatomy of a building 

Part IV:  Anatomy of a Building

Part V:   Anatomy of a Building

Part VI:   Anatomy of a Building

The first segment of a six-part series about the new Solaris Avenue building at Camana Bay

The Solaris Avenue building wasn’t even supposed to start yet.

Another building, called ‘Block 5’ internally, was supposed to be the next commercial building going up at Camana Bay. But like many aspects of Cayman’s multi-decade, master-planned, new-urbanist development, plans can be fluid and change to meet arising needs. Camana Bay’s management often speaks of the development being organic, and while that term has other connotations in the business world, it is also a term used to describe living things that change as they age.

When the law firm Mourant Ozannes expressed an interest last spring to become the anchor tenant of a building on the bay waterfront, things happened quickly to make it happen.

During a groundbreaking ceremony for the building in January 2010, Jim Lammers, managing director of Dart Realty (Cayman) Ltd. – the parent company of Camana Bay developer Cayman Shores Development Ltd. – spoke about the decision to go ahead, despite the uncertainty existing in the Cayman Islands at the time because of the global economic crisis. 

“By moving forward with the new office building and other Camana Bay projects, we are underscoring our long-term commitment to the economic prosperity of the country and getting people back to work,” he said. “These projects will provide a significant economic stimulus to these Islands in very difficult times and provide needed job creation.” 

Jared Grimes, Camana Bay’s senior manager design and development, said it wasn’t a case that the Solaris Avenue building was a new idea.

“There always was a building there on that parcel,” he said. “It was just a matter of when.”

The ‘when’ would have probably come later, after more of Camana Bay’s internal infrastructure was built, but the developers were able to find a way to resolve the parking issue.

“The development of the Solaris Avenue building was driven by provisions of the Planning Department to allow us to take advantage of shared parking,” Grimes said, noting that the parking demand for Camana Bay’s Town Centre as a whole was lower than the overall parking available.

Once that obstacle was overcome, the design team got to work. Architectural design was provided by the US-based Torti Gallas and Partners, with assistance from Burns Conolly Group in Cayman. Other firms involved include landscape designers Olin; structural and civil engineer Halcrow Yolles; canal wall design and soil investigations were done by Apec Consulting Engineers Limited; MEP and services engineering was provided by the MCW Group of Companies; L’Observatorie designed the lighting and Johnson Controls designed the building’s management systems.

Mourant will occupy the fourth and fifth floors of the five storey, 68,000-square-foot building on its completion, which is scheduled to occur by July 2012.

Neal Lomax, managing partner of Mourant, explained at the ground-breaking ceremony why his firm had chosen the Solaris Avenue building at Camana Bay as its future home.

“The vision of our firm is to be consistently recognised as the leading law firm offshore,” he said. “In order to achieve this vision, we need premises which can accommodate the future growth of our Cayman office in a location which is reflective of the quality of our firm.”

Lomax said the firm was confident the Solaris Avenue building in the Camana Bay community would satisfy the firm’s criteria.

“I have no doubt that, once the building is completed, there will be many professionals working either onshore or in competing offshore jurisdictions who will look with envy upon the quality of our work environment that we have created for ourselves.”

Rick Cobb, director of leasing with Dart Realty, said Camana Bay is particularly well suited to the demands of international banking, financial services, legal, insurance, accounting and retail companies. 

“The Town is attracting some of the world’s leading companies by offering not only a Class A office environment, but also underscoring the importance of a quality work and lifestyle environment for their employees,” he said. “This focus on keeping employees happy and grounded is something company executives say will pay dividends into the future and help companies recruit more competitively, retain valuable employees as well as foster increased productivity and creativity within the workplace.”

Cobb said Camana Bay offers an array of amenities, including ample parking, access to green space, plus retail and dining options. 

“The Town also ticks all the boxes with regards to technology and business continuity infrastructure, with its cutting-edge data centre, physical site security, environmental controls and power protection to ensure that tenants can get on with their business should a disaster or crisis strike.”

Project Manager Roddy Graham said Dart Realty is willing to work with tenants to customise some design elements, something that happened with Mourant.

“They’re taking the top two floors and wanted connectivity between staff,” he said. “So we put an internal staircase through the fifth floor slab.”

Grimes said one issue that posed a challenge with the building was the fact that the upper floors are being designed and leased as Class A office space, while Camana Bay wants retail and other commercial entities on the ground floor.

“The market for Class A office space wants a Class A entrance,” he said, adding that as a result, the building essentially has two front doors.

Cobb says the double entry is a unique feature of the Solaris Avenue building. 

“The goal was to design a main office entrance tailored to a Class A office environment, while at the same time create a less formal entrance to the south onto Camana Bay’s harbour front to blend with the mixed use environment of restaurants and shops,” he said.

On its waterfront location, Solaris Avenue building will have great views.

“The building will have spectacular views of the inner harbour and North Sound and, on the upper levels, also of Seven Mile Beach and the Caribbean Sea,” Cobb said. “The location on Camana Bay’s inner harbour also means that employees are able to redefine commuting by taking advantage of Camana bay’s dock-to-office benefit.” 

Grimes said the building will also get a lot of natural light flowing into its interior spaces.

“Light is something we pay a lot of attention to,” he said. “The Solaris Avenue building is not tremendously deep, so it will get a lot of light transmittance into the space. That’s a better quality of light than florescent or other kinds of light.” 

It is envisioned that other corporate entities will lease the second and third floors. Graham said the building module was created to be very flexible for leasing.

“We can accommodate multiple small tenants or we can accommodate large tenants with this floor plate,” he said. 

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A rendition of the retail side of the Solaris Avenue building.

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