Anatomy of a building II

Part I:     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

There is nothing cookie-cutter-like about Camana Bay. The Solaris Avenue Building – the future home of the law firm Mourant Ozannes – is no exception.  

The building, often referred to as Block 10 by those in the construction industry, is scheduled for completion by July 2012. When completed, it will not only look different from every other building in Camana Bay, the process used to build it will have been somewhat unique as well.

Gary Gibbs, the executive manager of DECCO – the construction manager of the project – said buildings in Camana Bay are delivered in various ways.

“We don’t limit ourselves to any one method of project delivery,” he said.

To date at Camana Bay there’s been buildings delivered with design-bid-build – with and without construction management – and by design build.

“That’s how we’re delivering Block 10; as a design build project,” said Gibbs. 

The Solaris Avenue Building will become the third large Class A office structure in Camana Bay, following the buildings known as 62 Forum Lane and 89 Nexus Way. The Solaris Avenue building, like the Forum Lane building, has a cast-in-place concrete frame, while the Nexus Way building, which was built second, had a steel frame.

A number of factors played into the decision to go back to a reinforced concrete frame, said Roddy Graham, the senior construction engineer for Dart Realty (Cayman) Ltd.

“One problem with a steel frame is the procurement period,” he said, noting that availability issues and long lead times can cause construction delays, something the owner – Cayman Shores Development Ltd. – could not afford because Mourant Ozannes must be able to occupy the building by 1 July, 2012.

Gibbs also noted that in the steel-framed Nexus Way building, concrete was used in any case to create the building’s exterior cladding to ensure a high hurricane rating.

Graham noted that steel frames also require a special coating to prevent corrosion because of Cayman’s salty and moist climate.

In the end, concrete just made more sense.

“Plus, you have access to a labour market that knows how to do reinforced concrete well,” Graham said


Construction team

A wide range of firms are involved in the construction of the Solaris Avenue Building, starting with Cayman Shores Development Ltd. as the owner/landlord and Decco as the construction manager. The design team, which was instructed by the owner, is led by the US-based architectural firm Torti Galles and Partners and is assisted locally by Burns Conolly Group.

Halcrow Yalles acts as the structural and civil engineer, while APEC has performed civil engineering functions on the canal wall and soil investigations.

MCW provided MEP and service engineering assistance; L’Observatoire has designed the lighting; Johnson Controls has designed the building’s management systems; and Olin Partnership provides the landscape design.

In addition, a host of local contractors and subcontractors are being used, Gibbs said.

“A great majority of our contractors have been Caymanian contractors and the same holds true with Block 10,” he said.

Gibbs noted that some people think Camana Bay only uses larger contractors, but he said that wasn’t always true.

“When the opportunity arises for a small works package, we absolutely use smaller contractors,” he said. “We have engaged the smaller tier contractors and we’ll continue to do that.”

All of Camana Bay’s contractors, however, are required to meet the development’s high standards of safety and quality control. Gibbs admitted that it’s been a learning process.

“The contractors that have worked here a lot have adapted and learned how to conduct themselves and do their own quality control,” he said. “They certainly know what we expect.”

Gibbs said the method of getting the contractors up to required standard doesn’t involve hitting them over the head with a stick to get them to comply. 

“My view is that we want to make people succeed,” he said. “We want to make people accountable, but help them to succeed to that level of accountability.” 

By pulling “up by the bootstraps” the contractors that needed some help to succeed, Gibbs said Camana Bay has created a level of trust with the local contractors.

Over the years, the training process has had benefits here beyond Camana Bay, Gibbs said.

“I know we have contributed to a more professional [construction] industry here in Cayman.” 

Construction standards  

Camana Bay’s standards aren’t only very high when it comes to contractors, its construction standards require strong, durable buildings that can withstand Category 5 hurricane wind speeds.

Graham said all of the building components – roofing, windows, the curtain wall system and the skin of the Solaris Avenue Building – will meet or exceed the Miami-Dade County Building Code.

“And that also includes sealants as well as anything bolted to the building,” he said.

Even the anchor plates that hold things like the overhead sunscreens in place have been designed to withstand hurricanes by the design team, something Gibbs said is par for the course at Camana Bay.

“We go the extra step, not only with the design, but we inspect the installations to make sure they’re being constructed properly,” he said.

In addition to the hurricane-rated construction methods, Camana Bay has raised the level of the land on which the Solaris Avenue building sits to just under eight feet above sea level. Other business continuity assets include a cistern for emergency water and a generator for back-up power. 

All of Camana Bay’s commercial tenants can also chose to take space at the bunker-like, on-site data centre and take comfort in knowing the development has its own security staff and CCTV system.

Justin Howe, vice president development of Dart Realty (Cayman) Ltd. spoke about the importance of ensuring business continuity for Camana Bay’s commercial tenants. 

“We concentrated our energy, research and resources to ensure that the Camana Bay business community has reliable, future-proofed technology systems and business continuity infrastructure,” he said. “As a tenant ourselves we recognise how essential it is to get on with the business of doing business should a disaster or crisis strike.” 


A rendition of the Solaris Avenue building at Camana Bay.