National Library, Port of Spain, Trinidad, thinking insomniac, vernelle noel, colin laird

Old Fire Brigade Headquarters (National Library) - Port of Spain, Trinidad

This is a sketch I did of the Old Fire Brigade Headquarters in Port of Spain, Trinidad; which is now part of the National Library block. This project was done by my mentor and friend, Colin Laird who I admire immensely for who he is as an architect, and more importantly for who he is as a human. You can see a photo of the National Library here >>>.

Below is an excerpt of Colin’s description of the Old Headquarters Building:
“It (Old Fire Brigade Headquarters) is a precious part of our scarce building patrimony and its coarse Victorian presence deserves to be meticulously renovated to its former glory. The original building is in the form of an L shape along Abercromby Street and Hart Street with the distinctive tower power at the junction of the two wings…The 45 degree cant of the Fire Brigade Headquarters Tower within the strict rectangular grid of the area, significantly continues the diagonal path pattern across Woodford Square…emphasizing the importance of the pedestrian traffic to urban communication… This Proposal celebrates the Old Headquarters, or rather its skewed Tower, as an important element of the National Library within the whole composition of the Woodford Square District.” (Colin Laird Associates Technical Proposal for the National Library, 1998)

Colin used the Old Headquarters, the 45 degree pedestrian path across Woodford Square, and the city grid to set up the framework for the design and form of the National Library. He is always sensitive to the genius loci (spirit of place); and taught me that by “digging deeper into a site and its surroundings, we can obtain clues that must be respected in what Peter Eisenmann calls “architectural archaeology” as a palimpsest of all that went before, of what was moulded, enriched or even abused.”

Isn’t this poetry in built form?!! This poetry and examination of context and culture, tied in to his use of materials, the program, construction techniques, etc. This is definitely one of my FAVORITE buildings in Trinidad & Tobago. Again, you see the importance of architects (and planners), who do meaningful work?

Daily notes on Architecture & Planning:

(Adapted from the American Institute of Architects – Issues & Advocacy)
Architects & Planners need to get involved in the political (and public education process) because:

  1. Architects & Planners have a lot to give. They impact the lives of everyone in the communities they serve. Architects & Planners need a strong voice on a wide range of issues from community planning, housing, sustainability, building codes, project delivery, historic preservation, and a wealth of other issues.
  2. Architects & Planners have a lot to lose. It is easy to take for granted what has already been earned – architectural practice acts, qualifications based selection for design services, historic preservation, to name a few – but all of this work can be undone by a legislator who is unaware of the purpose of these important victories of the past.
  3. Citizens have a lot to gain and lose. The intelligent and positive contributions made by architects and planners, when heeded by legislators, politicians, and decision-makers, serves to benefit the lives of everyone in the community. If we (citizens) fail to recognize these contributions, we face the possibility of losing our heritage, our environment, and our future.

Go here to the SketchCrawl page >> or see more sketches on my Flickr Page >>

Link to 2011 Thinking Insomniac Calendars >>>

Creative Commons License
This work by Vernelle Noel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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