By Isaac Blessings
In recent years we’ve seen the coming up of different tall and spectacular buildings in Nairobi. From the UAP Old Mutual towers to the Britam towers to Prism tower and the recently launched Global Trade Center. However there are buildings that have been in existence for more than 20 years and passed the test of time. In this article we take a look at some of the iconic buildings in Nairobi and the architects who built them.
Kenyatta International Conference Center (KICC)
The Kenyatta International Conference Centre was built in the 1970s and has been one of Nairobi’s landmarks since then. The brains behind the building is none other than architect David Mutiso, the first African member of the Architectural Association of Kenya and Norwegian architect Sir Henrik Nostvik. Mutiso also happened to be the first African architect at the Kenyan Ministry of Public Works. The two men worked together and came up with the final design which began ground breaking in December 1967 and opened on September 11, 1973. The 30-storey building was built and designed with a restaurant at the very top that revolves after every 55 minutes to give the people there different views of the city. Today, the building is state-owned and houses a number of government and international organisations offices.
Times tower is a 38 floors building located in the Central Business District of Nairobi just next to the Central Bank of Kenya and Cooperative bank towers. It was designed and built by Triad architects – one of the oldest architectural firms in Kenya, founded in 1963 by Amyas Douglas Connel and Graham McCullogh. The building was the tallest building in Kenya for over 15 years and is designed to withstand earthquakes and artificial bombs. Launched in May 2000, the tower was built by the Central Bank of Kenya in collaboration with the government of Kenya. It is currently mainly used by the Kenya Revenue Authority as their headquarter offices.
Kipande house was first constructed and designed by Gurdit Singh, a Pakistan national in 1913 and was the tallest building at that time. It was constructed to be a place where Africans would be registering and receiving their Identification Documents (ID) hence the name Kipande House. For the longest time it housed the ministry of labor offices during the Moi government. It was later bought by the Kenya Commercial Bank in 1976 but was gazetted as a national monument and the bank was only allowed to use it as long as there were no structural alterations. In 2006, KCB hired Triad Architects to undertake internal renovations and architect Derek Fialt to refurbish the exterior and maintain the vintage look. The building still sits at the corner of Kenyatta Avenue and Loita Street.
Macmillan Memorial Library
The Macmillan Memorial Library is one of the oldest buildings in Kenya dating back to 1930s. The Library was designed and built by architect and environmental designer Musau Kimeu. The library was built using the Nairobi blue stone – a hard stone that gives the building a classic vintage look. Blue stone is one of the hardest stones and buildings built with the stone in Paris, France have firmly stood for hundreds of years. The stones have given the library an amazing look up to date and it requires no painting to make it any better. The library is apparently the second oldest library in Kenya after the Seif bin Salim Library in Mombasa. It is located along Banda Street in Nairobi.
The state house is the official residence of the President of the Republic of Kenya. It was formerly known as Government house before independence where it served as the residence of the Governor of British East Africa when Kenya was a British colony. It was designed and built by architect Herbert Baker in 1907. Since its inception the facility has housed four sitting presidents who served for different terms.
Nyayo ouse became famous during the Moi regime and was known as the torture chamber for those who were seen as potential threat or opposition to the government. The 27 floors and 84 meters tall building was constructed in 1979 and opened by President Moi in 1983. The building was orchestrated by the Ministry of Public Works, designed by Ngotho Architects and built by Laxmanbhai constructions. The facility hosts several government offices including the immigration headquarters. It is located at the corner of Uhuru highway and Kenyatta Avenue Nairobi.
Kenya National Archives
Kenya National Archives and Documentation Services (KNADS) was established in 1965 and it stores over 40,000 volumes of archives and public records. It holds a collection of documents of the Kenyan government from the colonial period to independence. The building was first built by the National Bank of India in 1931. In 1958 the bank was acquired by the government to give rise to the Kenya Commercial Bank. It was later in 1965 that the place was turned into Kenya National Archives and Documentation Services and was established by a substantive act of parliament, and placed under the Office of the Vice President and State Department for Heritage and Culture. The main architects behind the building aren’t publicly disclosed and remain anonymous. We are sure to add this information is available.