Convention Center design contest waste of public funds

>> Saturday, July 29, 2017


 Despite denial of the Baguio City council that the P2.3 million to be spent by the city government for the Baguio Convention Center architectural design contest is not a waste of public funds, the contrary is obvious.
The council said the contest is a way for top architects and design enthusiasts to share their concept of what the facility should be, therefore use of the P2.3 million is justified.
Councilor Maria Mylene Victoria G. Yaranon, an architect, said the P2.3 million to be spent by the local government for the one-year duration of the architecture design contest is much cheaper compared to the 8 to 10 percent designer’s fee which would be paid by the city if it commissions an architect to design the multi-million project.
She said if rehabilitation of the Baguio Convention Center will cost P500 million, then the local government is obliged to pay the commissioned designer around P40 to P50 million, thus, the P2.35 million planned to be spent by the city for the architecture design contest is cheaper and will result to substantial savings on the part of the local government.
Yaranon said the convention center has deteriorated over the years and it is a low-performing and low-income generating property of the city, thus, the need to upgrade the facility and its surrounding grounds.
Councilor Elmer Datuin, chair of the city council’s committee on finance and appropriations, said the city government is sourcing out funds to fully rehabilitate the convention center instead of simply renovating it from time to time. He said the design contest should already be done so officials will be aware of the magnitude of the project once implemented when funds will be available.
Among objectives of the design contest which has a prize of P1 million for the winning design include designing a modern, ecologically feasible  convention center that conveys historical and architectural significance of the site, use of renewable energies in the building and promoting public involvement in selection process.
Pending before the local legislative body is an ordinance appropriating P2.3 million from the city’s non-office allocations for prizes and other administrative costs related to design contest.
City Building and Architecture Office officials said their pool of experts could not handle the design because they are involved in preparation of designs for numerous projects in the city funded under its annual budget.
There is no problem if the intention is to come up with the best design for the Convention Center. But P2.3 million is just too much and part of the money should be diverted to other programs.

Observers note there would still be takers even if the winning entry prize is lesser.  And of course, judges for the winning entry should be composed of respectable, competent and qualified persons. Otherwise, a skeptical public would again brand the project “Lutong Macaw.” 


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