Urban Development from the Office of the City Architect

Why do some cities have the Office of the City Architect while others have not embraced it?

Although the Office of the City Architect is optional in the Local Government Code of 1991, the benefits of having such an office are good for the development of a city, municipality and province. This can be gleaned from other cities internationally.

There was a time when after World War II, the development of places devastated during the war fell on the shoulders of the architects as they were the prime professionals for vertical structures.

Unfortunately, there were only a few licensed and registered architects in the Philippines then. The government had to mobilize other allied technical professionals in the designing and construction of vertical structures.

Fast forward to the present. With the influence of so many registered and licensed professional architects today numbering more than 50,000, our society has come to know and appreciate the work of architects.

Master builder

The architect is one who is professionally and academically qualified, registered and licensed under Republic Act  9266 with a Certificate of Registration and Professional Identification Card issued by the Professional Regulatory Board of Architecture and the Professional Regulation Commission.

He or she is responsible for advocating fair and sustainable development, welfare and cultural expression of society’s habitat in terms of space, forms and historical context.

In fact, even during the olden days, the architect was known as the Master Builder.

Pyramids, coliseums, temples, palaces, medieval cities, and even aqueducts were all done by architects. Famous architects such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, known as Michelangelo, Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Marcus Vitruvius Pollio have transformed and upgraded habitable cities of man to a level only arts can visualize.

Today, the focus of the modern world is tapping the experiences, creativity and innovativeness of the architect.

Realizing the developments acceptable internationally by the potentials of the architect and his team of technical professionals that can impact on the populace, cities look for these artistic and technical professionals in revitalizing, or re-developing their progressive or decaying cities.

Look at the ultra-modern Brasilia in Brazil in the middle of what was once a forested area planned in the 1960s to what it is today; the Canberra City in Australia for the Parliament site; the High Mile in New York City;  the City of Tokyo and even the prosperous and inviting Barcelona and Bilbao cities in Spain.

In the Philippines, we are looking at the wide streets and parking spaces of General Santos City leading to their City Hall, the public utilities and infrastructure including zoning implementations in Davao City’s progressive development, the fast-paced improvements of the new Clark City and Quezon City’s re-development of its public structures, open spaces and government facilities.

All of these cities have the involvement of their City Architect, and in the case of Quezon City it is the City Architect Department (CArD). Planning and designing can influence and impact the lives of people even before construction starts.

It is with hope that cities, municipalities and provinces in the Philippines move forward into the future through the Office of the City Architect.

* * *

Arch. Benjamin K. Panganiban Jr. is a past national president of the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) and the first national president from Mindanao. He has been in private practice for more than 37 years and is a Fellow of the UAP. He is also the first ASEAN and APEC architect coming from Davao City. He is a graduate of BS Architecture from the University of Mindanao, a Doctor Fellow of the Royal Institute of Architects Singapore, and a recipient of the European Business Assembly.