By: Alan Markoff

Dart pays tribute to Burns Conolly

Dart pays tribute to Burns Conolly

Dart executives and staff members paid tribute to Caymanian architect Burns Conolly last month after he passed away on 1 September after a long illness at the age of 62.

Among his architectural contributions in the Cayman Islands, Conolly, was instrumental in the early planning of Camana Bay. Dart Director Jim Lammers said he would miss Conolly greatly.
"I know my voice is echoed by hundreds of other people," he said. "His contribution to Camana Bay in the early days was simply invaluable."

Dart President Business Development Jackie Doak said Camana Bay wouldn't be what it is today without Conolly's contributions.
"There are elements all around Camana Bay where we can feel the fingerprints of Burns Conolly, from the architecture to the landscaping to the courtyards and the fountains," she said, adding that Conolly also had an impact on aspects as basic as building colours. "The colours he recommended made Camana Bay feel authentically Caribbean — and of the place — and really brought the buildings to life."

people breaking ground on development site
Conolly, second from left, at the groundbreaking for Camana Bay in April 2005.

Dart President Real Estate Asset Management Justin Howe said Conolly had extensive involvement with the master planning of Camana Bay, working with the overseas firms OLIN and Moore, Rubel and Yudell, and then in the production design with Spillis Candela.

"Burns was absolutely in the middle of all of that," Howe said. "He welcomed everybody to the process."

Though surrounded by overseas experts, Conolly wasn't afraid to assert his opinions on the project. Dennis McGlade, a partner at landscape architecture company OLIN that helped conceptualise and execute Camana Bay’s landscape design, told Camana Bay Times in 2017 that he recalled "a healthy debate" with Conolly on how the Crescent should look.

"He suggested the Crescent be designed partially as a green space," McGlade said, noting that OLIN had originally planned on the Crescent being all pavers or concrete. "He argued that public parks were not prevalent in Cayman and that the local population would appreciate such a space to unwind and spend quality time."

Conolly's argument convinced OLIN to put the sections of grass along the Crescent that have become much-loved gathering places for events and families to enjoy.

Former Dart Vice President Design Alex Russell, who worked as a senior project architect with the Burns Conolly Group during the early years of Camana Bay, said Conolly had a big influence on many of the overseas professionals who worked on Camana Bay, often helping them understand Cayman and Caribbean architecture.

"He really did a fantastic job at guiding those consultants, who hadn’t necessarily worked in the region and who certainly hadn’t worked in Cayman before they came to Camana Bay," Russell said. Conolly, who was the first Cayman Islands architect registered with the American Institute of Architects, was active in the community, serving as a president of the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce and the Cayman Society of Architects, Surveyors & Engineers. He helped develop several pieces of development legislation, including the Planned Area Development concept for master planned projects of more than 40 acres with a minimum of three distinct uses.

Dart President Development, Delivery & Infrastructure Cameron Graham said he worked closely with Conolly during the master planning and design processes of Camana Bay, and that he provided invaluable insights into Cayman architecture. But Graham said he also enjoyed Conolly's good humour.

"He was always cracking a joke," Graham said. "I can count myself lucky to have known him and worked with him so closely.
Lammers agreed.

"He was extremely smart and very funny. He had a wonderful twinkle in his eye and we had some great laughs. He is gone way, way too soon."

This article appears in the October 2021 print edition of the Camana Bay Times.

A Tribute to Burns Conolly

Cayman Islands architect W. Burns Conolly left an indelible imprint on all who knew him personally and professionally. He was instrumental in the early days of Camana Bay, Dart's Flagship development.

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