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Dominican cave wins AIA Bienal award

The Cueva de las Maravillas, a cave habilitation project implemented by the Ministry of Environment, was awarded the Landscape Architecture-Public Award from the Bienal Miami + Beach. The international contest is part of a week of architectural events created in a collaboration between the Miami Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the Florida International University School of Architecture, the Tropicalia Program, Competitions Magazine and the Pan American Federation of Architects Associations. The award honors chief architect Marcos Barinas, who also credits the many people who worked with him: Victor Garcia, engineer; Domingo Abreu, cave expert; Pedro Guerrero, entomologist; Amalia Bobea, gardens; Claudio Chea, illumination; and Rickard Toomey and Elizabeth Winkler, international consultants, in addition to many others.
The cave was opened to the public in the summer of 2003 and has been an overall success, especially with tourists visiting the southeastern resort areas of La Romana, Juan Dolio, Guayacanes and Boca Chica. In an interview in the Listin Diario, Barinas commented that the award is a recognition of the great team that worked on the project and the government’s decision to bring this outstanding resource to the general public. For more information on the award, see http://www.fiu.edu/~bienal/miamibeach2003/winners/index.html by scrolling down to the category of Landscape Architecture-Public.
Barinas feels the award is important because it is a first-rate competition and because a developing country’s project is honored. Secondly, it was a project carried out by the government, which usually is not concerned with quality or originality in architectural design. And lastly, because it is the first time a Dominican architecture project has won first prize in an extra-Caribbean region contest.
The same team that habilitated Cueva de las Maravillas is currently working on the Cuevas del Pomier in San Cristobal, west of Santo Domingo. This is the most important and largest underground cave system in the Caribbean. For more on the caves, see http://www.ceiba.gov.do/?option=Main_Detail