Architect and conservationist Geoffrey MacLean says the appearance of a pitched roof at City Hall, Knox Street, Port-of-Spain, is an "unfortunate addition" not in line with the current aesthetic design of the building. Two workmen were observed by the T&T Guardian yesterday clearing the area under the steel beams put up for the new roof. MacLean said careful consideration needed to be taken when expanding landmarks. "Too often when offices outgrow the space, they don't think when constructing additions and usually look at the cheapest solution but it's important that the aesthetic of the original building not be destroyed," he said. He added: "We have to respect buildings as they are designed." Port-of-Spain Mayor Louis Lee Sing could not be reached for comment as members of council and the Port-of-Spain City Corporation took part in a weekend retreat. They are expected back to work today. Calls to Lee Sing's cellphone and text messages went unanswered
Deputy mayor, Keron Valentine, however, answered a call to his cellphone from the T&T Guardian and said the work was part of ongoing developments at City Hall, which he described as cramped for space. He said he could not give details on the project cost or timeframe as it was an issue for "administration." "Space continues to be a problem and the corporation is doing things to make the area more comfortable," said Valentine. City Corporation CEO, Winifred David, said public servants were not allowed to speak to the media and told the T&T Guardian to submit a written request for information. David was also at the retreat but answered a call on her cellphone.
MacLean said City Hall was of particular significance because it was home to the Independence mural, Conquerabia (1961), by artist Carlisle Chang created when the City Hall was constructed in 1961. The mural was one of many public artworks created by Chang that MacLean said lacks public appreciation and recognition. Conquerabia is the original name of the Amerindian settlement that is now Port-of-Spain. The mural depicts architectural and cultural landscapes in stone etched into the a wall facing Knox Street in the City Hall foyer. Although MacLean said Lee Sing was well aware of the need to preserve the mural, he noted the corporation would be remiss to allow Conquerabia to follow the same fate as Chang's Inherent Nobility of Man. That mural was destroyed by the expansion of the Piarco Airport in 1977.