Designed to feel as if it has been around for a long time, Camana Bay and its buildings exude character and personality, enhanced by mature landscaping and secluded gathering spaces delightfully tucked away in unexpected places. Movement flows organically throughout the Town Centre, linked by winding sidewalks, meandering paths and courtyards home to bubbling fountains and innovative water features. The vision for 18 Forum Lane, the newest commercial edifice under construction in Camana Bay, was to seamlessly envelop it into this existing heart of the Town Centre.
However, weaving a new commercial building into the fabric of Camana Bay is not simple. Making it the most environmentally efficient structure in a town built on the principle of sustainability, adds yet another level of complexity. Deciding to build it on spec requires an even greater degree of flexibility.
Fortunately, Ross Tibbetts was up to the challenge. Having worked as Design Coordinator on Camana Bay‘s 94 Solaris Avenue building that opened in 2011, Tibbetts showed a passion for advancing sustainable design and function at every opportunity. As Design Manager for 18 Forum Lane, Tibbetts worked with multiple award-winning architects Lake|Flato of San Antonio, Texas, known for their environmentally responsible projects.
Given the success of 94 Solaris and the overall Camana Bay office portfolio, which has maintained an occupancy rate of more than 90%, Dart Realty chose to proceed with 18 Forum Lane before securing an anchor tenant. Furthermore, following the positive response of tenants in 94 Solaris to the high levels of water and energy efficiency, Dart Realty chose to seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certification for the new build. Currently, the building is on track to earn LEED® Gold, which would make it the first mixed-use development in the Caribbean to achieve this distinction.
Offering ground floor retail and office space on three upper levels, the building has already secured PwC Cayman Islands, a member firm of one of the world‘s largest professional services networks, on the third and fourth floors. Signing a lease for 26,000 square feet in the summer 2014, PwC’s clients, employees and other tenants and visitors will enter the commercial office spaces in the building through a grand canopy at a centralised loggia on Forum Lane.
“The sense of arrival at 18 Forum Lane will really capture what Camana Bay is all about,” enthuses Tibbetts. “A central breezeway is the continuation of a pedestrian experience that starts all the way in the courtyard of the Cinema, across Gardenia Court and into 18 Forum Lane through a stately entrance more than 14 feet high. With seating, fans and a warm tile with the richness of hardwood, it has ‘linger-ability’that makes it much more than an office lobby.”
Employing a mix of the latest in energy efficient technology and conventional Caribbean wisdom, the edifice will maximise the benefits for its tenants’ utility costs. A 100kw photovoltaic system designed by local firm GreenTech will help the building achieve energy savings of 32% over comparable buildings, and solar heat gain will be minimised by Camana Bay’s ‘shade over shade over shade’ approach – a nod to traditional Caymanian building craft. One of the shading elements is aluminium cladding fabricated in waves to resemble the corrugated zinc roofs that cover traditional Cayman cottages.
Built around a courtyard that functions as its ‘outdoor room,’ complete with a shaded grove of trees with discreet fairy lights braided through the branches, the space will have a canopy, numerous fans and custom designed perforated light fixtures that cast shadow art on the walls and ground.
“The courtyard can be used for business gatherings, lunches and company events,” says Tibbetts. “It’s also an ideal location for casual meetings or presentations with natural stadium seating on the gently sloping lawn.”
A key element to Camana Bay’s overall success has been its superior landscape design. Therefore, it was an easy decision to work with Olin, the renowned landscape architects who were part of the original Camana Bay design team, when deciding whom to use for 18 Forum Lane. Staying true to the standard of using native and endemic plants and trees as well as drought tolerant species to lower water demand, Olin added a few unexpected twists.
“It’s not common practice to use palms as street trees due to the relatively low amount of shade that they provide pedestrians,” explains Tibbetts. “However, we chose the less thirsty Silver Date Palm to line Market Street since their low water demands and thick frond canopies will combine perfectly with the building awnings to create a comfortably shaded, distinctly Caribbean window shopping experience.”
In conceiving Camana Bay, Ken Dart envisioned a town that would grow over generations, champion open spaces and foster community, promote walkability and encourage responsible environmental practices. 18 Forum Lane is scheduled to open in early 2015 and deliver on that promise.