The Jamaica Conference Centre complex is located on the scenic Kingston Waterfront. It was designed by architect Patrick Stanigar and constructed by the UDC in the record time of 12 months in time to host the International Seabed Authority beginning in 1983, in the process, winning the Governor General’s Award. On February 15, 1983, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the doors of the Centre.
The Centre is located on 220,000 sq. ft. of land, of which, buildings account for 210,000 sq. ft. Although the Conference Centre was built to the specifications and standards of the United Nations, it is uniquely Jamaican. Local material and craft items have been used to enhance its magnificent architecture.
Stonework – masons from several parishes lived in hostels for six months - the duration of that part of the project. Limestone was quarried in St. Thomas and fashioned to create a 6” veneer over concrete black walls.
Entry Tower – the glass roof is a sandwich of two sheets of clear glass with a sheet of plastic layered between. One sheet has a thin coating of gold which has been expanded to the point where it is transparent. This was made in the USA by Libbey Owens Ford. The construction strengthened the glass to withstand 120 mph winds, preventing it from shattering.
Bricks made in Jamaica by Clays of Jamaica, a community enterprise organization.
The building was constructed over a 19 month period from the beginning of design. The sketch designs began in June of 1981 and were completed in September of that year. Detailing of the design in order to begin construction was done during the last three months of 1981 and construction commenced in January of 1982.
The construction and furnishing of the building lasted for 12 months and ended in February of 1983. The Worker’s Wall pays tribute to the work of the thousands of persons and the many organizations that contributed to the completion of the building for its promised opening in 1983.
The central statement – “ONE-ONE COCO FULL BASKET” is a Jamaican proverb which means that every small piece is important to the making of the whole. It is usually used to encourage or justify thift but in this case, it means that every man’s contribution was indispensable.
Sisal Wall coverings by Things Jamaican originated from Brown’s Town, parts of St. Elizabeth and (May Pen Sisal factory) – Jamaica Cordage.
Ceiling Baskets are filled with fibreglass to absorb sound. Baskets are made of the woven bone of big thatch by craftsmen of St. Elizabeth. Clay rossettes are by Things Jamaican.
Conference Rooms 3 – 5 are housed in a pre-existing warehouse. Different treatments were given to these rooms to compensate for the barrel shaped roof which is not an ideal design acoustically. In Conference Room 3, the ceiling is made from bamboo from St. Mary which was cut at the dark phase of the moon to avoid infestation by insects which feed on starches and increase in wood when the moon is full. The bamboo was further pressure treated with wood preservative. The bamboo is said to improve the sound quality of the room.
Conference Rooms 4 & 5 are outfitted with panels in the ceiling which assist with acoustic quality. The white curved panels break up the tendency of the curved roof to focus sound and absorb low frequency sound as well. The hand-woven panels which are made by Things Jamaican from local bull rushes are screens for fiberglass insulations which absorb the high frequency sound.