Cedar wood from the iconic ‘A’ frames that were the main architectural feature of the old Owen Roberts International Airport (ORIA) terminal building, best remembered for the open air ‘waving gallery’ that was popular to locals and tourists alike, has been repurposed into benches for the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park’s Children’s Garden Classroom.
The waving gallery was first put in place in 1984 when the airport terminal building was completed and was an integral part of the facility for many years. In 2017, in order to comply with international security regulations, the waving gallery had to be permanently closed.
The Children’s Garden classroom has been on the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park’s master plan since 1994 (originally as the “Discovery Garden”). In 2015, this area was still undeveloped when the Park’s General Manager, John Lawrus, revisited the idea.
“The Rotary Schoolhouse was the first component of the Children’s Garden to be built. Designed as a multipurpose, open air structure, we wanted to establish the classroom as the “heart” of the project to be utilized as an educational facility for all schools of the Cayman Islands who visit the Park,” said Mr. Lawrus.
When construction on the Children’s Garden began in 2018, communications with CEO Albert Anderson of the Cayman Islands Airports Authority (CIAA), which owns and operates Owen Roberts International Airport, and Ian Pairaudeau of McAlpine Ltd. began, and both organizations agreed to graciously donate several large pieces of timber from the airport’s A frames.
“It fills me with a sense of pride and nostalgia to know that a piece of Cayman’s history, that was once an iconic feature of ORIA will serve another grand purpose in the community,” said Mr. Anderson, remarking on the repurposing of the cedar wood from the airport. “We are thrilled to be a part of the exciting venture with the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park and contributing partners to bring the Children’s Garden and Rotary Schoolhouse project to life for generations to enjoy.”
A small plaque has been fastened to each bench highlighting the donation and origin of the wood.
“Children, just by sitting on the benches, passively learn about our important heritage and the importance of recycling and repurposing valuable resources, which was a common practice in the early years of the Cayman Islands. Nothing was wasted. That, in itself, is an extremely important message that needs to be shared,” commented Mr. Pairaudeau.
The Children’s Garden project is ongoing with Greenlight RE Grow Zone now completed and the Cayman National Splashpad currently under construction. The next phase will be the construction of the Observation Tower and the KRyS Global Discovery Pond.
“I would like to express my thanks to the CIAA and McAlpine for this important donation to the project, which not only keeps our heritage alive, but also provides an important environmental message that’s becoming more critical in the world we live in today,” added Mr. Lawrus.
The Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park is still actively seeking donations to complete the Children’s Garden project as well as individual donations of $250 for each bench. Interested donors should contact the park on firstname.lastname@example.org