S.H.A.P.E expresses alarm over lack of consultation for new library design

Roseau Library post Maria before the fires

SHAPE (the Society for Historic Architectural Preservation and Enhancement) is alarmed to read in a report from Caribbean News Global on 13 March 2022 that a design for a new Roseau Public Library has been approved and that construction is due to begin within the next few months. SHAPE has not been consulted about this design despite having been invited to join a legally mandated committee (Public Library Act 1954) whose function was to determine the future of the library. No committee meeting has been held.

The designs for the library show a three-storey building with a clock tower “similar to the Big Ben”, to be built on the site of the existing library, badly damaged by Hurricane Maria and in subsequent fires. The library and national archives will be on the ground floor with space above for a dance space and sound recording studio.

While we support the need for a new library and additional space, we cannot endorse the new design, which is understood to be the work of MMC Development Ltd, the development arm of Montreal Management Consultants Est., responsible for recent housing projects, health centres and the plans for the new airport.

The proposed design has no cultural integrity, it reflects nothing of Dominica, and is architecturally bereft of any understanding of the needs of a tropical environment. This is another blow to our fast disappearing architectural heritage.

SHAPE has argued that a restored library and the surrounding French Quarter could serve as a significant cultural and economic boon, much as Old San Juan in Puerto Rico is the most visited area on the island, or the French Quarter in New Orleans.

More than six thousand signatures were generated by an appeal by SHAPE in 2020 to restore and preserve the library (appeal still active at https://www.change.org/p/roseaulibrary). This was one of the most successful petitions in our island’s history. We had hoped that this appeal would have resonated with the decision makers.

SHAPE officials had meetings with the Parliamentary Representative, officials from the Ministry of Education, and other public officials in an effort to express our concerns and lend support to preserving one of the pillars of our cultural heritage.

The new plans also seem to incur the demolition of the Victoria Memorial, the small building in the library grounds next to DBS. This was carded to be the Dominica Disaster Resource Center post Hurricane Erika for which funds   were secured by Baroness Scotland, Secretary General of the  Commonwealth, and announced on her first official day on the job.

We do not just have concerns about the destruction of our heritage. We are also dismayed that the expertise of local or regional architects is not being utilised for the new library, nor indeed for any other major landmark building projects across the island. Such decisions will hardly offer an incentive to young architects overseas who dream of returning home to contribute to the built environment of Dominica.

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37 Comments

  1. Dan
    March 17, 2022
  2. RastarMarn
    March 16, 2022

    But why does the library have to be so lavish???

    Everybody have cell phone these days with clock on it and they always on Cell phone so who need a central Time Spot to tell time,,,

    Is not like olden days when no body had a time piece nuh!!!

    And why do we need a Dance and recording studio in a Library for again could someone please explain to RastarMarn why???

    Instead of having such a lavish building in One spot why not spread that money and put two other branches of the National Library, one in the Northern District and one in the Eastern District,,,

    Rastar cannot being to comprehend how these leaders there thinking nuh,,,

    Look Mah Skerrit come say the other day she done have funding for Children Playground but look how they fighting about how the Library should be designed,,,

    Waw there is Leadership for allyou but then again take what allyou getting cause allyou had options!!!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
  3. Frank Wild
    March 16, 2022

    I’m no fan of the design, but I also think there’s an argument to look forward rather than back. Why do we want a design that reflects a time of colonialism ? Why not design buildings that reflect who we are and where we want to be as independent Dominicans and citizens of the new Caribbean. Designs should reflect contemporary culture, not the past. But what is contemporary culture ? It seems to me that Dominica doesn’t really have a defined cultural identity yet. It is still growing and figuring things out. But I agree with Roger – someone designing our buildings from an office in Dubai is certainly not the answer.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5
  4. Eagle-Eyed
    March 16, 2022

    So has SHAPE produced and published an alternative design to the one it is opposing? I think that this is a beautiful modern and resilient structure which will complement the President’s residence across the road and the revamped Fort young hotel next door. The aesthetics of the building itself could reflect our cultural heritage. We don’t have to build back broken down buildings to their original structure in order to portray our cultural heritage. The key word is adapting to modern requirements especially with resilience in mind.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 34
    • Just saying
      March 16, 2022

      I agree with you that SHAPE should be more proactive in producing alternative designs, not just for this building but for other potential historic sites. I personally find this design very boring, unimaginative, and completely out of touch with Dominica’s history and culture.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0
    • March 16, 2022

      I am on your side Eagle-Eyed. They are just jealous of what the Skerrits are doing. They complain all the time. Nothing unusual. SHAPE is full of BS. They have nothing better to do with their lives. Look at these projects that have been funded by the CBI program including the Public Library and the International Airport. Where would Lennox Linton have gotten the money from to fund those projects if he was Prime Minister.? Not even a thriving Banana Industry or Lime Industry or Cocoa Industry would have generated that kind of money to fund those projects. The CBI program is very beneficial to Dominica and the other islands in the Caribbean. Even in Nigeria there is the CBI program going on. These people are a waste of time. My only hope also is that they make the second and third floors sound proof so as not to disturb the library on the first floor. These people are jealous people.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 0 Thumb down 15
    • Buddy
      March 16, 2022

      If you read the article you’d have been informed that there was zero consultative process even though there is a legal requirement that the affairs of the library should be governed by a committee. This committee has not been functional.
      There also was no design competition so that any design could be submitted. This government is too authoritarian and does what they want.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1
      • March 17, 2022

        SHAPE will not tell the government how to build the library. We don’t need SHAPE’s design. Tell SHAPE to go and shape their butt.

    • March 16, 2022

      Well said, Sir.

  5. Loving It!
    March 16, 2022

    Admin, why aren’t you posting my comments? How more bias can you get. Don’t be a fake news organization!

    First the State house was too good for Dominica and now the library……. Well, they said the apartment buildings were also too good for poor Dominicans. Some even said the new airport will be too big and we needed a shorter runway for short fat planes. Smh……..What do we really want in this country????

    ADMIN: Your comment was approved.

    Please note that all comments are usually moderated within 24 hours(though often much sooner) with the possible exception of weekends and holidays.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 2 Thumb down 22
    • March 16, 2022

      They are bums who do not know what they want. As long as ugly Lenny is not the PM, THEY ARE READY TO OPPOSE ANYTHING GOOD. They say what a tragedy – they are the Shakespearean tragedy waiting to explode.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 0 Thumb down 12
    • We the People
      March 17, 2022

      You should go visit the state house and see the madness in that construction. I wonder how much it’s costing to fix it. As for the other houses that the chinese built, go visit them … make your eyes boil your peas ….

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1
      • March 17, 2022

        You are right. I agree with you. Everything built in Dominica under Skerrit’s leadership is falling to pieces. Only when they are built under Lennox Linton leadership will they stand strong. You are certainly right.

  6. Black History Department
    March 16, 2022

    Design is important although not much leeway in this tight spot. Given that almost everyone has access over the web to all the Eurocentric books that will be housed there, particularly on the HISTORY and tradition of our people, it is prudent that we have, in this day, a committee and/or department taxed with inclusion of books researched and written not only by our Caribbean stalwarts, scholars and educators but most importantly our ancestoral thinktanks such as WEB Debois, renowned Archeologists like Dr. Ben Jochannan, A. Browder, Dr. Runoko Rashidi etc., Eric Williams, CLR James, Dr. John Henrik Clarke, Sheikh Anta Diop to name just a few who could be missed in our quest for total colonialists eurocentricity rather than real education and truth on our history. Equal representation must be given for the benefit of our generations since we are only a small Pea and the Continent of Africa the Pod. This should not be missed.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 11
    • Pipo
      March 16, 2022

      The irony is that the old library is also part of our history, a philanthropic gift by Carnegie warts and all, and in my humble opinion with more merit than that poor glass fibre copy of the Barbados chain breaking slave on the roundabout by Fort Young.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 3
      • Black History Department
        March 18, 2022

        I know just what you mean Pipo, even the title too.

  7. Thinking Aloud
    March 16, 2022

    What an obnoxiou,carbuncle to present propose for a premier learning place.
    A mix of garbage.
    This would never be acceptable to a planning department.
    Previous comment that it was of European design ,way of the mark.
    S.H.A.P.E. should have have been consulted and should have the final say in this matter.
    Just who was involved or had any input into this project.
    Sounds like the brain child of the central P.R.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 3
  8. BMB
    March 16, 2022

    S.H.A.P.E…, If you were from Trinidad and Tobago, you most certainly be familiar with the term “spinning top in mud.” Basically it means that you can be doing a lot of stuff to achieve an end…… but the sad truth is that you are proceeding NOWHERE….! As ‘Concerned citizen’ put it, “….MMCE has control….”

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1
    • Toto
      March 16, 2022

      It seems MMC have Skerrit by the balls. I am not surprised those Dominicans who can do so are desperate to leave the place. Democracy and reason are dead.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2
  9. Loving It!
    March 15, 2022

    First the State house was too good for Dominica and now the library……. Well, they said the apartment buildings were also too good for poor Dominicans. Some even said the new airport will be too big and we needed a shorter runway for short fat planes. Smh……..What do we really want in this country????

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 1 Thumb down 20
  10. Roger Burnett
    March 15, 2022

    You will get a better idea of the structure from this article published yesterday in the St. Vincent Times.
    https://www.stvincenttimes.com/an-iconic-national-library-to-be-built-in-dominica/

    The appalling design is unlikely to win any architectural awards. It begs the question: do those responsible have an understanding of the location and our Caribbean identity?

    Assuming that the new library is to be built on the site of the old library, the “artist’s impression” has conjured up extensive grounds and a white sand beach. But granted, it must be difficult to do better from an office in Dubai.

    I know of at least one young Dominican architect who could run rings around this.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 2
    • Lin clown
      March 17, 2022

      Now,I am thinking,Mr DS the UWP senator for the Salybia said the government should build traditional houses for the Kalinago people.Pit toilet outside.House covered with grass.Three stones outside for a stove.One bedroom gullet house.Carrying water from a standpipe.Another member of shape.These people are the same people who want to compare Dominica with other countries.

  11. En Ba La
    March 15, 2022

    I believe the design is missing something. The building I believe the architectural makeup (19th century)should reflect an architectural style during the period in which the original donor was born but have it depict aspects of Dominica – faces of prominent Dominican figures, with bois caraibe flowers in the mold on the demarcation of flooring. have dome like the Pantheon I would look to the Pantheon or preferably another Carnegie Library for inspiration for this aspect of the building.

    DORIC COLUMNS, DOME SHAPED vaulted ceiling
    Utilize what we have in abundance which is sunlight for lighting – solar power as much as possible. Make maximum use of sea breeze for air conditioning.

    The clock should go – you do not want this go during a hurricane.
    Doric type columns for entrance and remain as a museum for paintings or art exhibits and invite the Carnegie’s during the opening.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4
  12. March 15, 2022

    There is absolutely no need to restore that old library building. The building should be completely demolished and a new modern building be erected on the same site. I am only hoping that in this day and age that there will be washroom facilities on each floor not only for staff but for library users as well. We are living in 2022 not 1970. If we are to modernize Roseau there is no need to restore that old, derelict library and, again, we have the State House on the opposite side of Victoria Street and Fort Young Hotel a couple blocks down.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 1 Thumb down 27
    • Me
      March 16, 2022

      PHILISTINE = a person hostile or indifferent to culture and the arts, a low brow, bourgeois boor (credit Oxford dictionary).

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2
      • Dominican Bwoi
        March 17, 2022

        ds said “We are living in 2022 not 1970”. I doubt they ever read a dictionary before. You taught them something new today. Good job :lol:

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
  13. Bwa-Banday
    March 15, 2022

    LOL some people still have not gotten it yet!

    Skerro only consults with his Domigarchs which we refer to as cabal. Who is SHAPE to even expect consultation from His Royal Highness? This is Putin junior my friend so expect nada from him until we as a people drag him before a court, kangaroo or otherwise so he can answer for his crimes.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 2
  14. What a tragedy
    March 15, 2022

    A country that loses its history loses everything.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 2
  15. Bring back the kidnapped parrots
    March 15, 2022

    Every time them meaning yours truly + crew get involved in any construction projects on Dominica it turns out to be a racket. How come no Dominican construction companies are involved, this means it is a racket and only certain individuals on island will benefit financially while the people will get the SHAFT. The old library should have been protected before and after hurricane maria and preserved as a museum to Dominica history. Was the fire set on purpose, who did it Was it done as part of the racket?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 3
  16. derp
    March 15, 2022

    I guess Skerrit and them is the new Putin, doing what they want with no remorse

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 3
  17. ash Joseph
    March 15, 2022

    I strongly agree that the trend of buildings is taking away the caribbean feel they do not fit in to the culture the island and they are very European, Please Please even though we are getting help these developments please always put more of our culture in the developments so that they don’t stand out like a sore thumb.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 37 Thumb down 2
  18. Vanguard
    March 15, 2022

    The “Roseau Development Plan” presentation by the Barbadian Engineering company (West Bridge?), was advertised for public attendance. At the gate, there was a list of invited guests. Obviously, they were attempting to embarrass someone. It’s very likely this one followed a similar path.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2
  19. Concerned citizen
    March 15, 2022

    Forget it. Kudos to SHAPE for expressing dissatisfaction.
    But MMCE has control of the Ministries of Planning/Planning Division, Finance, Housing. A foreign concern, aided and abeted by a few locals in ‘authority’ are in charge of building Houses, Health Centres, without even allowing locals to design or bid or build. Civil Society, communities, have no say. Dictatorial trends. The
    Dominica’s landscape is strewn with Arab style designs, No respect for our people, even if you ask to participate.

    The strategy is clear. Take away everything that made us feel like Dominicans. The wicked will never destroy your beauty Dominica..

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 3
    • Bry Martins
      March 16, 2022

      local contractors are now being part of the housing and healthcare projects, you may only see MMC upfront but try to ask around, at least 15 local contractors are now being engaged

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 0 Thumb down 14
  20. Peter Edwards
    March 15, 2022

    The new structure should be built with the old building preserved in front of or as a part of the new one. We need to preserve as much of the historical context as possible.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 46 Thumb down 2
    • Smh
      March 15, 2022

      Someone is actually against what you said? Really? Wow

      I really think that building should be restored.

    • March 17, 2022

      Why don’t you preserve yourself for later? I guess we should preserve those pit latrines also? Right?

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