Haiti Decision Due Soon
  • Tuesday, February 28, 2012

By Gary G. Yerkey

The team charged with overseeing construction of a new Episcopal cathedral in Haiti is expected to decide within the next few weeks on the architectural firm that will design and coordinate the construction of the new facility.

In 2010, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake destroyed Holy Trinity Cathedral.

Sources said that requests for proposals were sent in early December 2011 to ten prospective candidates, including Hite Associates of Greenville, N.C.; Kerns Groups Architects of Arlington, Va.; and Errol Barron/Michael Toups Architects of New Orleans.

Construction on the new cathedral, to be built on the site of the destroyed Holy Trinity Cathedral in downtown Port-au-Prince, could begin as early as this spring, the sources said.

The team overseeing the project includes the Rt. Rev. Jean Zaché Duracin, Bishop of Haiti; the Rev. Joseph M. Constant, director of ethnic ministries and student life at Virginia Theological Seminary; the Rev. John Runkle, a registered architect and the project manager; and Sikhumbuzo Vundla, chief of operations for the Diocese of Haiti.

Vundla said that the architectural firm, once selected, will be responsible for coordinating the services of civil, structural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineers, along with other consultants, as required. He said that local labor and materials will be employed in the construction to the greatest extent possible.

He said the three (of 14) historically significant murals that were recovered from the old cathedral will be reinstalled in the new building. The murals were painted by some of Haiti’s best-known artists, including Philomé Obin, Castera Bazile and Préfète Dufaut.

A fundraising campaign launched by the Episcopal Church in January 2011 (“Rebuild Our Church in Haiti”) has so far raised about $1.5 million from supporters in 92 dioceses, other officials said. Roughly $10 million, believed to be the initial budget for construction, has been collected from other sources, notably large corporate donors, the officials said.

Vundla said that the worship space of the new cathedral will total somewhere between 1,670 square meters and 1,860 square meters — large enough to accommodate roughly 1,000 people.

The earthquake occurred in the afternoon of January 12, 2010, killing more than 300,000 people and leaving about 1.3 million homeless. The earthquake destroyed several other buildings in the cathedral complex, including the primary, secondary, professional and music schools, as well as a convent for the Sisters of St. Margaret.

The Diocese of Haiti, the largest in the Episcopal Church, decided to concentrate its initial efforts on rebuilding the Holy Trinity Cathedral “as a prominent landmark of God’s abiding presence with the Haitian people and the Church’s commitment to serve them — a beacon of hope to all who suffer.”

Correction received by email

I would like to correct this statement in “Haiti Team Considers Architects”: “Roughly $10 million, believed to be the initial budget for construction, has been collected from other sources, notably large corporate donors, the officials said.”

Although the Executive Council set its sights on raising $10 million, nothing like that amount has been raised to date. Initial negotiations are underway with an architect, but there is no selected architect at this point. As no construction plans exist and no contractor has been selected, there is no budget for construction. Neither donors nor funding sources have been announced.

Neva Rae Fox
Public Affairs Officer
The Episcopal Church

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