By the time the festive season is over, Parliament will be having their sessions in a brand new hall, built by their own people.
Head architects Harold Guida and Willam Gardner visited the site this week and they are pleased with the progress.
Project management consultant Robert Bartholomew said the building is “plateauing” to the finish line, with just some final touches in the paint, carpeting and panelling still to be done before December 10.
Mr Guida, an experienced designer and builder of parliament buildings (he has four under his belt now), says the new Maota Fono will be more welcoming than the last.
The building designed was heavily inspired by the last one, but with technological adaptations for which make democracy accessible.
“There are improved amenities for members, for meetings, for the public, in terms of being able to record, have simultaneous translation, media coverage and so forth,” said Mr Guida.
“All of that is a bringing up to date that was not possible in the old building.”
Lightening protection, skylights in the centre of the roof, carefully designed acoustics are all design elements the architects are pleased with.
The construction also offered an opportunity to upskill local workers in clear span architecture, which requires no support posts or columns.
“So the steel frame to support the clear span roof is probably the best example of capacity building… they just hadn’t seen it here before,” said Mr Guida.
“If somebody said now, we should capitalise on our tourism with conventions or leader meetings, then someone could say yeah, we could build a building like that because we’ve just done it.”
According to Government information, the site was initially set to be completed late 2017, but Mr Gardner and Mr Guida are not perturbed by the delays.
“The pace has been conducive to a quality outcome,” he said.
Mr Gardner said it is a credit to the construction company to invest in training and learning, instead of contracting experienced builders.
“Just for an example, the company made us numerous prototypes of concrete columns for us to inspect, which was such a good learning process.
“It may have appeared slow but the time was well spent,” said Mr Gardner.
The construction was funded by the Australian Government to the tune of AUS$13 million, who will shortly begin funding the building of a new Office of the Legislative Assembly.
According to the team, the budget has not been exceeded.