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
The final segment of a six-part series about the new Class A office building at 94 Solaris Avenue in Camana Bay looks at the impressions of a project completed more than a month earlier than scheduled.
When it comes to construction in the Cayman Islands, projects often experience delays. Occasionally, when things go right, projects come in on time. Rarely are projects delivered early. However, that’s exactly what happened with the 94 Solaris Avenue project, the new Class A office building in Camana Bay.
Originally slated for completion by 1 July, 2012, the new building’s anchor tenant – Mourant Ozannes – moved in on 19 May, six weeks ahead of schedule.
The completion date was moved up at the request of Mourant.
“We were keen to get into the new building for a number of reasons,” said Neal Lomax, Mourant’s managing partner. “One of those was simply the timing of the expiration of our lease at our prior address. Everything ran very smoothly and according to schedule. Both Dart and DECCO were highly professional and a pleasure to deal with.”
Gary Gibbs, the executive manager of DECCO – the construction manager of the project – said moving up the completion date on the five-storey, 68,000 square foot building took some effort.
“It was definitely a challenge to bring it in that early,” he said. “But we were happy to be able to accommodate Mourant.”
More manpower was brought on board to complete the building ahead of schedule.
“We just put on some extra shifts,” Gibbs said, adding that the job site ran a second shift from 5pm until 10pm. “We also did some weekend work.”
The advanced time line will also benefit the building’s other major tenant, Aon Insurance Managers (Cayman) Ltd., which is scheduled to move in on 15 June, two weeks ahead of schedule.
After pre-construction site work took place in December, 2010, the ground-breaking ceremony for the Solaris Avenue building took place in January 2011. Just 16 months later, Mourant moved in.
DECCO Project Manager Bryan Fitzgerald said the structure took less than seven months to complete and the base building took another five months.
“Despite the aggressive schedule, safety and quality was always paramount,” he said, adding that the number of safe work hours on the entire Camana Bay development has now surpassed 2.7 million.
The tenant fit-outs on the building commenced in January 2012 and Gibbs said the process went smoothly.
“Everything was well planned and the materials were all delivered on time,” he said, referring to the furniture and millwork.
“We got everything on island when it was supposed to be here. If it’s not here, we can’t install it.”
Over his career, Gibbs has worked on many buildings, but he said 94 Solaris Avenues stands out.
“I think architecturally, it’s one of the nicer buildings I’ve worked on,” he said, noting, among other things, the variety of shade structures used on the building.
Gibbs also likes the Duvall Design free-form shade structure that is used on the waterside boardwalk.
“It’s really unique and it makes the building stand out.”
Jared Grimes, Camana Bay’s senior manager design and development, said he was extremely pleased with the way the exterior of the Solaris Avenue building turned out.
“Now that it’s built and open, it looks great in the space,” he said. “When you design a building like this, you want to make sure it fits in the greater context of Camana Bay and when it’s built and it does, it makes you feel really good.”
One of the things that got changed in the design process involved what has become Lomax’s office. Originally, it was designed to be an outdoor terrace space, but it was later incorporated into the rest of Mourant’s interior space.
“We did that early on, for two reasons,” said Grimes. “One, the building looks better with that corner closed all the way up. It helps define the [Camana Bay] Crescent better. And two, in discussions with Mourant, they felt the patio space wasn’t going to be well utilised,”
Lomax said the Mourant staff were delighted with their new office space, which takes up the fourth and fifth floors of the building and is connected by an internal staircase.
“As far as the building itself goes, the goal was always to locate our Cayman office in premises which were reflective of the quality of our firm,” he said. “This new building achieves that goal. The location and design is outstanding.”
The interior of the Mourant space has been designed to very high specifications, both in terms of furnishings and technology, Lomax said.
“There’s not a single ‘bad’ office or workstation on our floors of the building. If I had to pick one interior aspect [to highlight] it would probably have to be our boardroom, which is spectacular.”
Lomax said Mourant was also pleased to be part of the Camana Bay community.
“The quality of the development never ceases to impress,” he said. “In my prior life, I worked in the London office of an international law firm called Skadden Arps. Our offices were at Canary Wharf in London, which was, and still is, a very impressive development. Camana Bay reminds me of Canary Wharf in terms of its quality, although our location far surpasses that of the London Docklands!”
The variety of facilities at Camana Bay is another thing the Mourant staff likes, Lomax said.
“The options, which are available to our staff at lunch or after work, are excellent in terms of dining, shopping and recreation,” he said. “It’s just a very pleasant and convenient environment to work in. My role at Mourant Ozannes requires me to travel to the other main international financial centres regularly and I visit lawyers in those locations. I wouldn’t trade my current work environment with any of them.”
The move to 94 Solaris Avenue has brought about excitement that can be sensed in the office, Lomax said.
“I think everyone associated with the firm finds it a very exciting place to work right now, given our plans for the Cayman office.”
On Thursday, 7 June, those involved in the construction of the building will be invited to attend a little get together to celebrate the completion of 94 Solaris Avenue.
After that at Camana Bay, Gibbs said DECCO would turn its attention to other projects.
“We’ll be hot and heavy into the condo design and development from July,” he said.
But there are still more office buildings on the drawing board as well. Grimes said the building known as Block 5, which was originally slated to be constructed before the Solaris Avenue Building, was likely going to be the next office project.
There now three Class A office buildings at Camana Bay – 62 Forum Lane and 89 Nexus Way being the other two – along with many garden offices. Grimes said construction is never really easy there because of the way the Camana Bay development is laid out and the fact that the building sites are never simple rectangles.
“Each project offers different challenges from the site and different challenges from the tenants,” he said. “We’re happy to work with them to meet those challenges.”
Grimes said he was sure the process will get somewhat easier the more Camana Bay is developed.
“But it’s never boring.”