2011 Governor’s Award goes to Seagrape House

Now in its second year, the Governor’s Award for Design and Construction Excellence in the Cayman Islands attracted six strong nominations, but one house in particular stood out to judges for displaying the required attributes. 

In the end, looks mattered a lot and Seagrape House has looks and more.  

Faced with some strong competition, the judges for the Governor’s Award 2011 for Design and Construction Excellence in the Cayman Islands chose a home that not only displayed the criteria needed for the award, but one that looked great as well. 

Now in its second year, the Governor’s Award is a initiative between the Office of His Excellency the Governor, the Cayman Society of Architects, Surveyors and Engineers – better known as CASE – and the Cayman Contractors Association. It seeks to “encourage, foster and maintain innovation, sustainability and excellence in the Cayman Islands construction industry”. 

Garth Arch, a member of the Governor’s Award planning committee, said it was the hope of the founders that the Governor’s Award would not only acknowledge excellence in design and construction, but also to inspire industry professionals to embark on new challenges and innovations that will contribute to Cayman’s built environment. 

“It is encouraging to see that this year’s short-listed projects are testaments to this statement as they promote new innovations in sustainable design and construction,” he said during the award ceremony at the Government House on 30 November. 

Kris Bergstrom, who is also a member of the Governor’s Award planning committee, said the judges had a difficult time selecting the short-listed nominees.  

“We [were] overwhelmed not only by the quality of the projects submitted, but by the considerable amount of talent displayed within the project themselves,” he said. “Many projects not only have been completed to high construction standards, making them resistant to hurricanes, but the complexity of the design and beauty of the architecture displayed provides encouragement for the future.” 

Any major building or development in the Cayman Islands – whether residential, commercial or industrial and whether it is new construction or a renovation – is eligible for the Governor’s Award so long as it was completed before the closing date for entries.  

Judging is based on six criteria: design excellence; creativity and innovation; sustainability and the environment; value; buildability; and cultural response.  

In addition to Governor Duncan Taylor – at whose home the awards ceremony took place – the judges included Henry Propper; Arek Joseph; Carla Reid; Michael Godfrey; Henry Muttoo; Woody Foster; Rayal Bodden as president of the Cayman Contractor’s Association; and Craig Nixon as president of CASE. 

In addition to thanking the judges and Governor Taylor in particular for endorsing the Award, Arch gave special thanks to planning committee member Andrew Gibb. 

Seagrape House   

Located in Frank Sound, Seagrape House was just occupied by its owners – Graham and Janet Morse – about 10 weeks ago. 

The house was designed by renowned local architect John Doak with consultants CE+S Partners, Jeff Demme Geothermals, Mega Systems, Arista Engineering and Vigoro Nursery. It was constructed by Smart Construction Management. 

While describing the short-listed projects, Bergstrom said the Sea Grape House was “exemplary of a sustainable and storm-resistant residence that successfully responds to a tropical climate, preserves the natural environment, and respects the built heritage of the Cayman Islands, whilst employing traditional construction techniques in addition to exploiting cutting-edge renewable energy technologies”. 

Bergstrom said the house’s interior spaces and exterior elevations were “reminiscent of 19th Century Caribbean Great Houses, including Grand Cayman’s Pedro St. James”.  

“Verandahs on all sides provide shade, access to and from interior rooms and a pleasant stroll amongst the treetops of the overhanging sea grape trees.” 

Bergstrom said the judges said the house represented “a comprehensive approach to integrating renewable energy sources, luxury accommodation, with an architectural style that suits its environment”.  

Although Graham Morse wasn’t there to accept the award, his wife Janet was. She praised contractor Alan Veeran of Smart Construction Management. 

“He said it would take 10 months to build and it took exactly 10 months and came in under budget,” she said. “I’ll bet there aren’t many houses that could say that.” 

Morse also thanked Doak. 

“When we first met with him, he immediately understood exactly what I wanted,” she said. 

Doak was a bit at a loss for words when he accepted the award. 

“This is somewhat like the Oscars,” he joked. “I’m seriously happy.” 

Other short-listed projects  

Five other nominated projects made the short list. Those included: 

The Kirk Freeport Bayshore Mall 

Light House Point 

The eco-friendly home of Darren and Lisa Bowyer 

The renewable energy home of James Knapp and Judy van Liere 

The home of Andrew and Sarah Bolton known as Trevose Residence 

The judges gave a special commendation for excellence in sustainability and the environment to Light House Point, an oceanfront condominium complex designed and constructed by owner Jay Easterbrook. Sub-contractors on the development included Electra-Tech, Arch Solar, Altonda Engineering, M&R Construction and Cayman Engineering. 

Bergstrom said Light House Point was Cayman’s first eco-development in that it uses green technologies “to minimise the impact of the development and use of natural resources”. 

“This is the first development to be built in the Cayman Islands to full LEED standards, demonstrating that it can be done here and paving the way for a more sustainable future,” he said. 

Located at North West Point in West Bay, Light House Point uses solar energy, wind power and natural gas installations to create energy savings. 

The judges said the innovative use of renewable energy in a mixed use residential condominium complex was “a responsible example for future sustainable project of this type”. 


Seagrape House