Style Observer

My Kingston - Omari Wright

Architectural designer & part-time lecturer at the Caribbean School of Architecture, University of Technology, Jamaica

Sunday, November 05, 2017

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What are your earliest memories of Kingston?

Going upstairs to the now-defunct waving gallery at the Norman Manley International Airport, watching planes arrive and depart, and seeing the arrival of visitors to our beautiful country.

What's the most memorable meal that you have enjoyed in Kingston?

A fillet steak cooked medium-rare topped with grilled onions and mushrooms, with a side of loaded mashed potatoes, corn and salad at the former Medusa's, or my wife Stacia's oxtail when she gets in the kitchen.

What would you do if you were mayor of Kingston for a day?

Create a lite rail and highway over our existing gully system to help alleviate traffic and allow persons to get to the different points of our city directly.

What would be your recommendations to a first-time visitor to Kingston?

Stop at Port Royal for a short tour of what was once one of the most infamous cities in the world, then head to Hellshire beach for fried fish at Bev & Sons for breakfast, then move onto the Bob Marley Museum, followed by a trek to Strawberry Hill for a chill vibe, coffee and magnificent views of Kingston against the picturesque backdrop of the Blue Mountains. Back on the flat it would be off to Devon House, for a taste of our celebrated Devon House I-Scream, then a Tastee patty, and conclude the day with dinner and drinks at Cellar 8.

Do our clusters of skyline need the intervention of a few good 'starchitects' to see dramatic change?

Every city should have one building done by a 'starchitect' so it becomes a conversation piece that will help to improve the quality of the built environment. We have enough stars locally that can accomplish this. However, the dramatic change hinges on several key inputs: the client's willingness to do something different and audacious, the client wanting to expand the programme to take advantage of what the skyline could become.

For a hypothetical zoning proposal for any of our major towns or cities, what would be your lead item?

I would demarcate where residential, commercial, institution and mixed use should go with the increase to the density requirements.

Can the combination of shared commercial and residential spaces work in our context?

Yes, I think we should have more mixed-use buildings to help with the density mix. This would ultimately take care of some housing needs and commercial needs.

Are augmented and virtual realities the keys to uncovering design or structural flaws?

Technology allows us to study our design in more detail, but it will not think for you. Through our rigorous training as architects and engineers we are taught to look at problems from different points of view to come up with solutions. Sometimes clients become enamored with the glitz and shiny presentations but there is no substance behind the design. Technology, and the use of technology, is to be embraced but must be used correctly.

What would be the impact on the built environment if upgrades to our roadways or public transportation sector were to continue?

The impact would be progressive, improving on zoning with more developments in more areas including the non-traditional areas.

Which global city's urban plan do you admire and why?

London, Paris and Washington DC because they are all laid out on a grid, which makes way-finding easier, allowing for a more pleasant pedestrian experience.

What's your relationship with the Sharpie?

'She' is my number 2, an old faithful, who has improved over the years, becoming sleek and refined. But I would have to say that my main squeeze is my LAMY Rollerball.




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