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It’s A Big Deal!

Issia Madden, Chief Architect

It has not changed my life, it has taken over my life


It’s A Big Deal!

Madden was selected to be the chief architect on the US$350-milion luxury residential development that is transforming both Montego Bay’s skyline and the wider real estate sector in Jamaica. She began working on the design in late 2021, and research included trips to the United States and China. When we spoke with her, she had recently started the most challenging phase of the project: construction.

We asked Madden about her role, the impact The Pinnacle will have, and what’s next for her. Read on for her replies:-

Design, Building and Construction (DB&C): For the layman, explain what it means to be a chief architect on a project, and especially on one of this magnitude.

Isiaa Madden (IM): It starts off with research. And, of course you consider the client’s vision — that’s what a proper architect does. The design considers all the different variables involved: the environment, the location, and what the client wants.

Then you start to put pen to paper. After the preliminary designs we have to also facilitate the other design consultants that actually make the building stable and make it function. We’re talking about the structural engineers, we’re talking about MEP [mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire] engineers, after which everything is coordinated to operate the building.

We then have to go back through the designs to make sure that the building functions and to also consider its future operations. We then take a step further to get the necessary permits, and we present it to the necessary government agencies to get all the approvals to get it built.

During construction, we monitor it. And while this doesn’t happen in all projects, I have been chosen to do the finishes, both interior and exterior — even the landscaping and the hardscaping on the exterior that surrounds the building.

The chief architect’s job usually ends when the users start to use the building, when it starts to operate.

DB&C: Explain to the layman how the towers have been secured.

IM: There are high rises all over the world; just an hour away by flight they’re in south Florida. In layman terms, the piles that go down into the ground can be considered the roots of the building, like how a tree has roots and it goes down into the ground to stabilise the tree. It’s the same concept. The piles are hammered down into the ground to help stabilise the building. The higher the building, the deeper the piles. It also depends on the soil conditions below.

Before I design the project, there is a lot of different research that is done – and the soil test by an engineer is one of them – for us to decipher what is necessary to stabilise the building, and to mitigate against any structural damage or acts of God such as earthquakes and hurricanes.

We’re at a stage now in construction where technology has far advanced the process of piling. The piles that we are using out there now are designed by Chinese engineers in China who are far advanced in building high rises; it’s like a second nature to them. To my clients (LCH Developments) it’s nothing, it’s a regular building. Let’s get it done.

Written by Jamaica Observer’s Design, Building and Construction on the 28/06/24