From the early 1970’s the growth of the Cayman Islands financial services industry began to draw worldwide exposure and significant investor attractiveness to the region. With the Development Plan of 1977 the country’s infrastructure and construction industry were growing to meet this new modern and sophisticated demand.
In these early days most of the architectural work was undertaken by foreign architects, some drawn to these islands by these new exciting opportunities and made the Cayman Islands their permanent home. Caribbean regional firms including Onions Bouchard and McCulloch (OBMI), Chalmers Gibbs Martin Joseph (CGMJ) set up offices on Grand Cayman.
In the early 1980s OBMI and CGMJ were represented at high school careers events and took steps to encourage and employ young Caymanians in Architecture. Many students of architecture at school in the USA were sponsored by OBM and CGMJ. Concurrently the Cayman Society of Architects, Surveyors and Engineers (CASE) was established, led by Bill Bissell, Conrad Rutkowski, Jerry Sibley, John Doak and Gordon McLaughlin in the early formative years. Most of today’s Caymanian architects began their careers during the 80s and 90s and returned to Cayman having fully qualified in the profession of architecture. Those early pioneers include Burns Conolly, Lyle Frederick, Danny Owen, Sean Evans, Cindy O’Hara who now run their own practices or are leaders in the profession of Architecture.
In those formative times, the requirement for registration of architects was tabled by a small group of architects lead by Mr. William “Bill” Bissell and Arek Joseph and later championed by the first young Caymanian to return from accredited international architectural studies Mr. Burns Conolly who lead the Registration Act Committee and liaised with the government regarding a Law which at the time was suggested to be fashioned similar to Bermuda legislation but tailored for the Cayman Islands.
As there were few construction professionals in this growing market, the creation of a joint professional society, CASE tabled numerous industry issues liaised with the government and numerous attempts lead by various CASE committees were assembled, with most of the professional architects residing in the Cayman Islands contributing in some capacity.
As the new millennium arrived Cayman had become an extremely sophisticated place, aligning itself amongst the top banking and tourism destinations in the world. Our building codes were enforced and more recently upgraded to the International Code to reflect the level of alignment with global standards of practice and compliance.
This was done in recognition of a need to establish a benchmark standard that was at least equivalent to other countries in the region and in the southern United States. The management of these standards locally can most efficiently be carried out by a formally constituted professional body applying internationally recognized licensing procedures and regulations. And so, a group of Cayman's leading architects came together in 2020 to form the ICIA to advocate for good architecture in the Cayman Islands. Its members are dedicated to upholding high standards of professionalism, integrity and competence within the practice of architecture, and advancing their own knowledge in the art and science of architecture. ICIA aims to become a centre for architectural excellence in the Cayman Islands.