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Institute of Cayman Islands Architects: Elevating Cayman's Architectural Practices

Dedicated to standards of professionalism, integrity, and competence within Cayman's architectural space.

As with many other islands in the Caribbean region and across the world, we now live in a global marketplace where standards and measures are valued. To be equitable with the rest of the world, Cayman must affirm expectation for established standards and codes of practice. To this end the Institute of Cayman Islands Architects was formed in 2020 and aligns its membership with the professional standards held by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), American Institute of Architects (AIA), Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC), Union of International Architects (UIA), Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA) and with the architects of our neighbouring islands across the Caribbean region.

Architecture is nothing if it does not contain the seeds of a better future. Whatever its relationship to the past or present, its prime duty is to look forward, to construct new relationships between what exists and what can come into being.

The ICIA works with the Government, developers and the public to share ideas and help with strategic planning for major projects and developments in Cayman. The Institute will also help to educate Caymanians about the many paths within the profession.

Five Reasons to Engage an ICIA Member

  1. Fully trained professionals ensuring: projects are delivered in a timely fashion, major and potentially costly issues are avoided, an ethical approach which provides client with peace of mind.
  2. Holistic approach ensures projects are not just fit for purpose but have an extended live-span.
  3. On-going professional training education to exploit the latest design techniques and build technologies.
  4. Local Cayman expertise ensures projects are aligned with local planning requirements and environmental considerations.
  5. Members share ideas and developments to ensure that clients are getting best-practice designs.
South Shore 2
Tin House John Doak Architecture
ICIA at work - Top Left and Right: John Doak Architecture, Bottom Left: OBMI Architects, Bottom Right: Design Cayman Architects

ICIA Members

John Doak Architecture (ICIA Member)

John Doak’s designs for residential, resort and commercial works have been recognised by international awards and in design publications.

place Industrial Park

BDCL Architects (ICIA Member)

An architecture, interior design and project management firm based in Grand Cayman.

place Industrial Park

Design (Cayman) Architects (ICIA Member)

Design Cayman is a full service Architectural Design Studio in the Cayman Islands, with a strong focus on sustainable architecture.

place George Town

Chalmers Gibbs Architects (ICIA Member)

Cayman’s oldest and largest architectural practice offering professional architecture and interior design services.

place George Town

Robert Towell Architect Ltd. (ICIA Member)

Robert Towell Architect Ltd. is a full service architectural firm.

place George Town

Frederick + McRae Ltd. (ICIA Member)

An architecture and interior design firm located in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.

place Seven Mile Beach

OBM International (ICIA Member)

OMB International (OBMI) is a design firm renowned internationally for residential, hospitality and commercial properties.

place George Town

History of the ICIA

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 (OBM), Chalmers Gibbs Martin Joseph (CGMJ) set up offices on Grand Cayman.

In the early 1980s OBM 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.

The Five Leading Principles of the ICIA

1. Unity and Support: To encourage cooperation between all members, to develop a more collegiate approach
and increase our advocacy of good architecture and how it matters to everyone.

2. Collaboration and Transparency: To encourage and lead collaborative and invigorating fact finding meetings with government, developers and the public, so that all members can feel more involved and able to take part, sharing information and ideas for the future of the Cayman islands.

3. Excellence, Learning and Diversity: As a collective of learned Architects, we will address the barriers in architectural education and promote different paths to the profession, in order to increase diversity and equality.

4. Localism and Internationalism: To combine our individual networks of professional bodies so that we may facilitate meaningful connections between local and international contacts and learn from links abroad.

5. Governance and Best Practice: Expect to operate and manage the Institute in an open and democratic manner, supporting our members, the public and all their interests in a transparent and accountable way.

Harbour Walk - BDCL Architects