Competition Site Proposal
In January of 2009 President Obama promised to close the Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp within the year. By January of 2011, the camp was still open. Instead of making final plans to close the camp, the President signed the 2011 Defense Authorization Bill which prevents the transfer of Guantánamo prisoners to the mainland or any foreign country. Some say this effectively halts all plans to close Guantánamo. Others claim forces prisoners to be given a fair trial. But the fact remains that Guantánamo remains open.
Part of the architectural design process is to be ahead of the curve when valuable land potentially becomes available for reuse and development. The detention camp at Guantánamo Bay is an example of such a site that needs a creative solution for its reuse. A proposal for design and redevelopment just might be a catalyst to speed up the process to close the camp. While there are no plans to close the greater GTMO Naval Base, the promise to close the Detention Camp opens up the doors for a new use and a new dawn for the site’s history.
After the Spanish-American war, the United States took control over Cuba from the Spanish and granted Cuba its independence. Through the signing of the Cuban-American treaty in 1903, the U.S. was given control of Guantánamo Bay for coaling and naval operations. The U.S. signed a lease agreement paying the Cuban government the equivalent of $4,085 (USD) annually. In 1961 President Eisenhower ended diplomatic relations with Cuba and tensions rose. Cuban refugees fled to Guantánamo Bay for support, and a few years later the Cuban Missile Crisis resulted in a U.S. quarantine of the island.
In the early 1990s the base became a refugee camp for Haitian immigrants found on the high-seas and for those fleeing the violence following the military coup of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Several detention camps were built at “Radio Range” on the south side of the island to house the refugees as the migrant population reached over 45,000. This would become the site of the current maximum security detention camp facilities. In 2002 following 9/11, the Bush Administration established a detainment and interrogation facility on the south side of the naval base to hold detainees from the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. The detention center consists of three separate camps: Camp Delta (including Camp Echo), Camp Iguana, and Camp X-Ray (a temporary camp which was later closed). Plans to close the detention camp are pending.
Despite its terrible political reputation, in recent years Guantánamo has been celebrated for its innovation and progress toward moving entirely off the grid. In 1964 Fidel Castro cut off water supplies to GTMO after claiming the U.S. was stealing Cuban water. This action forced the U.S. to move a desalinization plant to the bay to supply fresh water for the community. In 2004, four giant wind turbines were built to reduce the demand on energy production while security lights were replaced with solar-powered, energy-efficient LED lighting.
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More Info and Photos:
I Love Gitmo article @http://www.e-architect.co.uk
Progress on the Detention Camp Closure @www.newyorker.com
Progress on the Detention Camp Closure @New York Times
Progress on the Detention Camp Closure @BBC News
Opinion Argument for Closing Gitmo @www.g2mil.com
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