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TTIA president: Time for fair, transparent procurement laws
President of the T&T Institute of Architects (TTIA) Jennifer Smith wants Government to enact fair and transparent laws to deal with procurement. She said policy was not enough and called for supporting legislation for all areas of public expenditure, including an independent and well-resourced oversight agency to be established as a matter of urgent public importance.
Smith said laws to be drafted should cover the operations of architects, engineers and surveyors, as well as planners. She also urged the Government to adopt appropriate internationally recognised building codes with the accompanying legislation to ensure enforcement.
“The delivery or procurement of buildings—and by that I mean their design, construction and management—has changed dramatically in the past 30 years in the following ways: timelines have struck substantially; applied technology has grown exponentially; (and) buildings or components of buildings have become much more sophisticated,” she said.
“Public sector client and private developers demand record time delivery and tightly controlled costs, (while) users require spaces offerings high performance flexibility, comfort and security. The built environment is expected to comply with internationally recognised building codes to ensure public health and safety universal access and sustainability.”
Smith was speaking at then launch of an on-line building solution concept, T&T Buildings Source (TTBS) Limited, at the Hyatt Regency in Port-of-Spain. TTBS is an initiative pf businesswoman Ruana Booker-Evans. Smith described it as a welcome contribution to the construction sector, building on a model first established a decade-and-a-half ago by the TTIA through its diary and sourcebook project.
She expressed optimism that TTBS, through the use of the latest information communication technology, would be able to provide real time data on products and services for design professionals, clients and the wide public. Smith said manufacturers and suppliers using the TTBS platform could launch new building systems and products that could be accessed by markets locally within Caricom and beyond.
Locally, she said, the construction industry accounts for a very significant percentage of economic activity and the health of this industry os an essential component in continuing national development and the drive towards diversification. The role of architects, therefore, is not one of support but taking the lead in shaping the environment, as well as in development of the industry.
“Innovations such as BIM (building information modelling) and techniques of environmental modelling and performance are transforming the process of design and its potential. Procurement of building projects thus requires considerable knowledge, intelligence, co-ordination, integrated planning and careful thought.
“In T&T, thoughtful building solutions are very often compromised by compressed timelines for design and inadequate briefs, the results of which can be seen all around us. Despite pressures to provide ‘immediate’ responses, it is critical that sufficient design solutions which offer value for money which enhance our experience of living and which provide effective and safe working environments—all key to a sustainable future,” Smith said.
She added, “We need to ensure that the significant human, material and financial resources that are required to construct buildings are used to maximum effect. In order for us to build up our capacity nationally, all stakeholders need to work closely together to ensure that we develop appropriate building solutions for our climate, lifestyle and labour force. Buildings are expected to perform for more than 50 years and create the environment in which we work, travel, live and play.”