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Searchlight takes a close up look at local architect, Moulton Mayers

Searchlight takes a close up look at  local architect, Moulton Mayers

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Our focus this month falls on prominent local architect, Moulton Mayers. Mr. Mayers’ distinctive designs dot the landscape of the country, most noticeably in capital Kingstown. His works of art include the new Post Office building, the Building and Loan Association Building, the New Montrose Hotel, the Forestry Headquarters (this he says is his favourite project), the Marion House building, the home of Dr. Bertram “Chick” Stephens and the new National Insurance Services (NIS) building which is still under construction. Mayers says he has the feeling that the NIS might very well be the zenith of his professional career. Moulton is the son of the late contractor Milton T. Mayers. {{more}}

Q. Are you living your professional dream?

I would like to think so. The Architecture profession is a very noble profession, I enjoy every ounce of it. If I had to do it over, I would do the same thing. I get a very strong sense of satisfaction from undertaking my profession.

I was strongly influenced by my father who was in the construction industry all his life. I grew up in that environment. Early on, he recognized my ability in the same field and he nurtured it once he recognized I had the same gift like him. Saying gift does not mean what is inside comes out automatically, you still have to work hard to bring out what is inside of you, and you have to love what you do. It has to be a passion.

So my father recognized my gift, and nurtured it and pushed me as far as I could go into the profession. I remember a headmaster who taught me when I was going to primary school in Calliaqua along with my siblings. He came to my father’s place and pointed at me and said to my father, “Milton, you see that one, don’t worry with he, send he to learn a trade.” That did not daunt my old man, he took me from Calliaqua school and took me to Father Burgess at the Verbeke Centre (the present St. Martin’s School). Father Burgess created a special class for me and four other students. As a matter of fact, I came first in the special class from among the four dull fellows. The old man bought me a bike for that. I will never forget that.

I started slipping back, I used to burn school to go to the Gardens to catch fish. Father Burgess left, and he was replaced by Father Bones. Because I used to burn school, Father Bones threw me out. So my father took me from there, and took me to “Timmy School” (Intermediate High School). That is where I began to catch myself. My father kept stressing that I should do mathematics, but I did not bother with him. I passed three subjects for GCE there, Scripture, Geography and Health Science. My father sent me back to school. I did not want to go back, I felt I was a big man. But Timmy (the headmaster) had a rule, if you were late three times in a week, you would get licks. I figured that I had three subjects, so I told Timmy I wasn’t taking any licks. He threw me out of school. The old man bring me back and he and Timmy beat me. I went back and got one more subject.

Then my father insisted that I should do Mathematics at evening classes at the Grammar School with Drakes. I used to do English with Cec Norris and Miss Alves. I did Biology with Kerwin Morris. So I was doing three courses at evening classes. I got my Mathematics and English and through Timmy, I was able to get into Humber College in Canada. After the 2 year course, which is really a technician’s degree, I wanted to come back home, but my old man insisted that I stay to do my professional degree. I could not get into a University in Canada, so on the advice of Jean Anderson whom I met at a party hosted by Marcia McIntosh just as I was preparing to return home, I applied to City College University in New York.

I got accepted to the liberal arts program, not the architecture program, so when I went over to New York, I went to the Dean of Architecture, Dean Spring, and told him I didn’t understand why I wasn’t accepted directly into the architecture school because I had a 3.0 average. Dean Spring told me that they did not know anything about Humber College, but that since they had space, they would give me an exam. I passed and got straight into the school of architecture. That is how I was able to get my Bachelor of Architecture degree which is a five year degree. Then my old man told me that I had to do my masters. I did it on my own, I worked and went to school on evenings. I did my masters in Urban Design. My old man really supported me financially and otherwise. I have to give him credit for my academic success. He was the one who really allowed me to get to that level. I could not have done it alone. I did not have that type of go-getter instinct.

Q. What do you do to relax?

I like traveling. It allows me to alleviate my stress, and of course there are other things that come with that, which I can’t disclose, because relaxation could be private too, it has private overtones.

Because of the profession I am in, I have to travel in order to maintain my passion for design. What I have found is by traveling my eyes soak up a lot of architectural details. It is suppressed in my subconscious mind, so when I have the opportunity to design, it surfaces. If I don’t travel, I get stale.

Q. How do you spend your weekends?

I lime with friends. There is something instinctive in me where I gravitate towards older people. Maybe it’s their wisdom. Since I was a lad, I like to keep older people company. On the weekend, I mix with the type of people who shape events in the country. Your ear is to the ground and you know what is happening. You get first hand information as to what is happening in the country. It also has a marketing strategy aspect to it because some of my jobs come by my friends recommending me.

Q. What is your favourite meal?

Anything from the sea. I am a seafood man. Someone once said, once you are born under the sign Pisces, you have a tendency to like seafood. I could eat seafood every day, that includes codfish.

Q. What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job?

It is like agriculture, you plant a seed, nurture it and watch it grow, then you harvest it. I like the harvesting part, more so than the sowing and nurturing, because it becomes a reality, and you get that sense of satisfaction. Particularly when you hear people talk about it. I remember once a friend of mine and I were invited to Chick Stephen’s party. We got there the same time, he walked into the main entrance in front of me. It was the first time he was going to Chick’s home, and he looked back at me and said, “Moulton boy, I can’t afford you.” I said why? He said, “Look at this.” I like the awe, it’s that sense of satisfaction that I am talking about.

Q. Where do you get your inspiration?

My inspiration came from my father, I think he had a gift from God. But besides him, in the field of architecture, my inspiration came from a number of great architects, particularly Alvar Alto from Finland. If you look at his architecture, it is sensuous. People come to me and say I know when you design a building. You like a lot of curves and glass blocks. You bring the project alive by its sensuous nature. Alvar Alto was noted for that, everything is in motion simultaneously. A good example of that type of that architecture will be the NIS building when it is finished.

Q. Who has had the most positive influence on your life?

My father of course. To give you an example of how much of an influence he had on me, I will tell you this. Before I left to study he warned me about drugs. When he called me when I was overseas, he warned me. While I was studying in the States, it was common for the students to use marijuana at recess. When they passed it to me, as soon as I took hold of it, I would see my father in my hand. I just passed it on to someone else.

Q. If you were given the power to change one thing in the country or the world, what would it be?

One of the burning things in the world to me is that with all the technological advancement in medicine, people have to die because they cannot afford surgery or medical attention. I find that is absurd. That is very absurd. People at the United Nations who have the opportunity to sit in those seats of power, these are the issues they should be talking about. We should not allow human beings to die because they cannot afford medical attention.

Q. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 – 10 years?

Same place, here sitting in my office. My concept of retirement is that you do the things that you love to do at your own pace, and you are answerable to no man but the good Lord.

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