Issue of July 16, 2017

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P2.3 M prize for design tilt questioned
by Jane B. Cadalig

Members of the city council questioned the practicality of allotting more than P2 million for the competition that aims to come up with the best design for the repair of Baguio Convention Center.

While they expressed support to the Convention Center Design Competition, most members said the P2,310,000 for the initiative is costly, aside from the fact that the process by which the fund was allotted is not clear to them.

City Budget Officer Leticia Clemente, who appeared before the council in its July 10 session, said the design contest was conceptualized since three years ago and the amount for the competition was approved because it was included in the city’s budget for 2017.

“The funding requirement for the design competition is earmarked under the administrative capability fund in the non-office expenditure of our budget. There is no budget that was removed in favor of this project. The amount is there from the beginning and you have approved it when we presented the annual budget to you,” Clemente told the council.

Councilors Elmer Datuin and Faustino Olowan and Vice Mayor Edison Bilog asked if it was practical to spend such amount for the design competition when the city is not sure where to get funds to implement the project when the winner shall have been chosen.

Clemente said the concern on where to get the fund to implement the winning design can be discussed after the plan shall have been prepared.

She said the city can allot from external sources and enter into a public-private partnership and other schemes that can be adopted to implement the rehabilitation of the facility.

“What we need first is a specification or a plan where we can base our actions from. This is why we are having this design competition,” she said.

The rehabilitation of the Convention Center is one of the projects identified by the city government as a priority because of the facility’s dilapidated status.

City Buildings and Architecture Office Head Nazita Bañez said because of the magnitude of the project, the office tapped the expertise of the private sector and the team of Arch. Donna Tabangin from the Saint Louis University School of Architecture, who were commissioned to come up with a study on how the renovation will be implemented.

“The architects at CBAO cannot come up with the whole new design concept for the Convention Center that’s why we tapped the help of the private sector. CBAO can repair the structure, but not a design concept for a project of this magnitude,” Bañez said.

Tabangin said the winning designs will be subjected to public viewing and voting. “So whatever design comes out and whatever the Convention Center will look like in the future, it is a collective choice.”

The winner will receive P1M while the 10 finalists will receive P50,000 each.

The councilors said the prize for the winner is exorbitant, but Bañez said the amount is the best reward the city can give to lure the best architectural designers to join in the competition.

“If we want to get the best design for the Convention Center, we have to spend for it. If the prize is not competitive, then we might not be able to attract the best minds to prepare the best concept for the Convention Center,” she said.

Councilor Mylen Yaranon who authored the ordinance that authorizes the release of the P2.3M for the competition said the preparation of an architectural design for a massive project such as the Convention Center repair entails a lot of work.

“Architects exert an effort when preparing a design. They research and analyze and consider the costs. They do not just sketch. This is why the prizes we are appropriating for them must also be competitive. In fact, the prizes we will be giving are consolation if we compare it to what must be given to architects who will strictly impose the fees that they should be getting,” she said.

Olowan said that if the Convention Center should be repaired, its original design must be preserved because of its historical significance.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan said it is better to come up first with a design for the Convention Center before the repair starts so that the city can have a reference on how the facility can be improved.

He also shared the view that the original design of the Convention Center, which was patterned after the Ifugao hut, must be preserved.

The Convention Center was the venue of the 1978 World Chess Championship series between Russian grandmasters Anatoly Karpov and Victor Korchnoi.

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