Nairobi’s skyline is by far the most interesting and advanced in the region. A section of Kenyans have no idea who the brains behind these iconic buildings that dot the CBD. Triad Architects are credited Kenya’s modern architectural heritage as we shall see elsewhere in this article.
In this article, WoK takes a look at the founders, history, leadership and buildings designed by Triad Architects.
Triad Architects History
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Triad Architects and Planners was established in 1963 by Amyas Connel and Graham McCullogh. Amyas was part of a young group of modern architects in the United Kingdom (UK). He started practicing in 1929 and in 1933 established the legendary Connell, Ward and Lucas. He relocated to East Africa in 1946 where he designed the Kenyan Parliament in Nairobi and the Aga Khan Hospital building for which he received a RIBA Gold Medal. Graham on the other hand was a founder member of the Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK). In the late 1970s he designed the first safari lodges in Kenya which include the Ark, Samburu and Keekorok lodges. The two would meet in Nairobi and founded Triad Architects and Planners.
In 1969, Timothy Vaulkhard landed in Kenya as a volunteer with the Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO). He joined Triad Architects in 1973 and rose through the ranks to become a lead associate architect and later a Director in 1976. He played a key role in the company’s significant projects for over 40 years before finally retiring in 2013. In 1976, Daniel Mutiso who had just graduated with a degree in Architecture from the University of Nairobi, joined Triad Architects effectively becoming the company’s first African partner. Mutiso went on to play an instrumental role in the growth of the company by securing many projects for Triad during the time when Kenya had just gained independence and the government was pushing to Africanize the industry. He would then retire from the practice in 2000 after a successful career spanning over 25 years.
Buildings constructed by Triad Architects and Planners
In 1963, Amyas Connel, the founder of Triad Architects and his friend Thornley Dyer were tasked with designing and constructing the legislative building for the British government in Nairobi which is what is now the Parliament buildings. In 1976, the company was assigned by Kulia Investments Limited to build the Norfolk Towers located near Norfolk hotel along Harry Thuku road. The building was completed in 1978 and it became the first luxury apartment in Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD) to include an indoor swimming pool.
In 1978, the company constructed the KPCU Clean Coffee Warehousing building on behalf of the Kenya Planters’ Cooperative Union. The building is a six storey warehouse capable of holding up to 20,000 tons of coffee. In 1982, Triad constructed Garba Tula School on behalf of the German Protestant Agency (EZE). In 1984, it constructed the Corner House building which is located in Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD) between the junction of Kimathi Street and Mama Ngina Street. In 1985, the company was assigned to design and construct 30 Dispensaries across Kenya on behalf of the Integrated Rural and family planning program Kenya in a project that was funded by the World Bank and other agencies.
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In 1987, Triad constructed John Hurt House located in Mt. Kenya Game Ranch in Nanyuki. In 1989, it constructed the Diani Reef hotel located 20 kilometers south of Mombasa and in 1990 it constructed the ICRAF House in Gigiri which is now the headquarters of the International Council for Research into Agroforestry. In 1992, Triad was tasked by Unga Feeds Limited to construct their animal feed plant in Nakuru and in 1993 constructed Isiolo District hospital. In 1994, it was tasked by Unilever Pensions funds and Barclays Bank (now ABSA Bank) to construct Barclays Plaza and in the same year was tasked by Thomas De La Rue to construct a new security printing works in Nairobi.
In 1995, Triad built Ruwenzori house in Kampala and in 1997 constructed a new showroom for Car and General (Kenya) Limited. In 1999, Triad was assigned by the Central Bank of Kenya to build Times tower which was then the tallest building in East Africa and in the same year it built the Margaret Thatcher library located at Moi University. In 2000, the company built Lincoln School and Ruwenzori courts both in Kampala and constructed a new factory in Nairobi for Haco Industries Limited.
In 2003, Triad was assigned by the Jockey Club of Kenya to build the Nairobi Business Park. In 2004 it built a four storey building for the Communications Commissions of Kenya which is now the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK). In 2005 it built the International Mine-Action Training Centre (IMATC) and in the following year it built the Kipande House on behalf of the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) and British Peace Support Training College in Karen. In 2007, it built the Nairobi National Museum and the Bank of Kigali headquarters building.
In 2008, Triad was tasked by Coca Cola Company Limited to construct their regional East and Central Africa office headquarters in Upperhill, Nairobi. In 2010, it was instructed to construct the Insurance Plaza in Kigali, Rwanda and was later asked by Deloitte to build the Deloitte Place headquarters located at the junction of Waiyaki way and Musa Gitau road in Nairobi. In 2012, Triad constructed state of the art apartments named Muthangari Duplexes located along Muthangari drive in Nairobi. In 2013, the company constructed the 35 floors UAP Towers in Nairobi at a cost of Ksh 3.6 billion and later the Kericho Cathedral in Kericho town. Triad Architects has also been involved in partnerships in constructing several other buildings including the Garden City commercial development, Crystal waters in Kasarani, Al Jamea Tus Sai Yah University and Kenya Women’s and Children’s wellness Center.
Leadership and Management
The company is currently being steered by four Kenyan directors including James Gitoho who joined the company in 1981 and is the Chairman of the board, Julius Kibwage (1987), Charles Ndungu (1995) and Cecilia Wahinya (2010). The company prides itself with over 50 years of experience with active operations in Kigali, Kampala, Dar es Salaam, London, Johannesburg and Chicago. The company was the first architectural practice to attain an ISO certification in Kenya. It has its headquarters at Triad House along 83 Muthaiga Road in Nairobi, Kenya.