After I returned home in February 1956 from the United States of America, having received a Bachelor of Architecture, Howard University Degree in 1954 and Post Graduate Certificate, obtained in 1955 from the Interamerican Housing Center, Bogota, Colombia, South America on a United Nations scholarship, I discovered soon thereafter that I was the first and only U.S. trained Gold Coast Architect with a professional Degree. I became, also, aware that there were a few U.K. trained Gold Coast Architects who had obtained non-degree professional Architectural qualifications. Given the environment I encountered upon arrival in the Gold Coast, certain concerns became evident in short order. Among those concerns in the Gold Coast were:
- Registration of Architects as Draftsmen by the City Engineers Office, Accra where I was registered as Draftsman No. 95.
- Architects’ drawings for building permits were being vetted by Draftsmen for the City Engineer’s approval. A very unusual, clumpsy, awkward and wrong practice which needed to be remedied expeditiously by restructuring the City Engineer’s Office to include a City Architect
The concerns in Ghana were:
- A Chief Architect in a Public Works Department working under an Engineer-in-Chief instead of a Chief Consultant Architect, or Architect-in-Chief.
It must be pointed out here that even though a Professional Engineering U.S and U. K. B. Sc. Degree takes four years, a Professional Architectural U.S. B. Arch Degree takes five years, and KNUST M.Sc. – Architecture Degree takes six years, yet Architects continued to work under an Engineer-in-Chief. A rather strange, hierachical organization. Another anomalous situation, which needed a speedy remedy.
- The need for the non-professional Degree program at KNUST to be restructured to a professional Degree program.
Everything seemed somehow to start to fall in place when in 1962, I was appointed the Chief Architect of the Public Works Department, which became the Department of Public Construction and then the Ghana National Construction Corporation (GNCC).
It happened that Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the President of Ghana shared with me his concern about the slow rate KNUST was turning out Architects for the fast rate of physical development, and sought my advice. That gave me the opportunity to express my opinion about the need to restructure the Professional Architectural Education Program into a Degree one.
The next thing I knew, I had been appointed a member of a two-man Reviewing Committee with Professor V.N. Prasad, Head, Department of Architecture and Regional Planning, Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India and member, United Nations Physical Planning Mission in Ghana as Chairman, and Mr. J.K. Amofa, KNUST as Secretary.
Terms of Reference
We were invited by Dr. R.P. Baffour, the Vice-Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology to examine the School of Architecture, town Planning and Building, its structure, its curricula and the efficiency of its functioning with the view of re-organizing the school into an efficient faculty which would ensure success to its students and staff. (Reference the Vice-Chancellor’s letter no. VC/A/2 dated August 9, 1962)
Subsequently, the Registrar, in his letter no. PL/A41 S.F.1 dated October 27, 1962, indicated in our terms of reference a review of the existing structure of the Building Research Group and how best it would be re-organized and/or expanded to enable it to develop into a Center for Research work into planning problems in the country and participate fully in the academic life of the School of Architecture, Town Planning and Building.
This task was diligently and successfully undertaken with the cooperation and assistance of the Vice-Chancellor, the Registrar and his staff, the staff and students of the School of Architecture, Town Planning and Building.
The background information about the School and the suggestions offered were useful. The services of Mr. J. K. Amofa, Secretary, were very valuable. His efficiency and understanding of the most technical aspects of our work, and above all, his sense of duty and hard work were highly commended.
The task was thus expeditiously carried out and the report was completed December 19, 1962. We were pleased that it was accepted when it was submitted and very pleased for its implementation and becoming the underpinning and substratum of the polity of the Professional Degree Program – M.Sc. Architecture.
During my tenure of office as Architect and then Chief Architect of the Ghana Housing Corporation 1956-1962, where I had the opportunity to undertake the following projects, I found myself right in the middle of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s vision enshrined in nation building and in his call for indigenous African personality, and the cultural identity of Ghana. My projects were as listed below:
- The Ghana Housing Corporation Housing Estates at Larteh Biokorshie, Kaneshie, Kanda, Ringway, Osu, (Nyaniba), North Labone, Koforidua and Ho.
- The Ghana Army Tema Barracks (Michelle Camp) built in 1958 for the soldiers returning from the Congo War. A project for which he wanted improved housing for the army.
- The Air Force Housing at Takoradi
- The Burma Camp Labadi Gate Housing
- The Convention Peoples Party Headquarters
- The Farmers Building
- Peduasi Lodge Improvements Project
- The Ga Mantse’s Palace, Kaneshie,
Accra In 1962, when the position for a Chief Architect for the Public Works Department was open and I applied for it, and was appointed, the Department became the Department of Public Construction, and then became the Consulting Branch of the Ghana National Construction Corporation (GNCC).
The need arose in my new role with the increased workload and responsibilities to develop appropriate multi-task strategies that addressed, conformed with, and congruous to the President’s vision for rapid Ghananisation of manpower. My line of action was, therefore, directed towards: According Ghanaian Architects a similar opportunity as I had by assigning them increased workloads and responsibilities not only to bring out the best of their capabilities to enhance their expedited promotions, but also to shine, instill and inculcate confidence in the country that we were also world class. Being resourceful and innovative in design concepts, materials and methods, and fast tracking.
With these strategies during my tenure of office as Chief Architect, we were able to accomplish all our tasks efficiently, speedily, economically and with world-class excellence. The famous example was the State House Improvements Project (Job 600) which I fast-tracked, was designed, constructed, furnished and delivered in ten months for the Organization for African Unity Conference in Accra, in 1965. A very historic landmark and powerful world-class design excellence sitting in a stately splendor, grandeur and magnificence as required accordingly conceived, designed and built.
The project Architects were
Vik Adegbite, Chief Designer
Witold Wojczynski – the Twelve-Storey Executive Suites and Roof Garden
Jacek Chyrosz – the Conference and Banquet Halls
Mrs. Witold Wojczynski -Interior Designer.
- Scymczak – Landscaping
Mr. Larbi, a Ghanaian U. K. Trained Furniture Maker, the GNCC Carpentry Workshop, made all the Furniture for the whole project
Gaisie Mattress Company, Tema – All Mattresses
Other projects included:
The Three Vertical Slab Monument at the Christiansborg Cross Roads to honor Sgt. Adjetey and his Ex-Servicemen who fell on that Saturday afternoon of February 28 in the late 1940s when they went to present a petition to the Governor at the Castle.
Vik Adegbite – Chief Designer
- Scymczak – Project Architect
The Lower Level Viewing Platform of the Black Star Square Monument
Chief Designer – Vik Adegbite
Project Architect – E. K. Asuako
Ghana International Trade Fair Site, Labadi
1964 Master Plan – Vik Adegbite Project Architects – 0. T. Agyeman, Deputy Chief Architect and Jacek Chyrosz George Padmore, Attorney and Special Advisor to the President’s Niche at the Osu Castle Courtyard Wall housing the Urn containing his cremains.
Dr. W. B. Du Bois – Selected the original site, designed the Crypt outside the West wall of the Castle and directed the interment.
Regional Commissioner’s Residence, Bolgatanga.
My workload as Chief Architect included the maintenance of:
- The Castle, Osu
- Flagstaff House
- The State House
- Peduasi Lodge
- Dr. W.B. Du Bois’ Residence
- Mr. George Padmore’s Residence
- The President’s mother’s Residence at the Nyaniba Estate, Osu
- The Residence of Ms. Hanna Reich, Director of the Gliding School, Afienya
Since the office of the Engineer-in-Chief had no contribution whatsoever to the State House Improvements Project (Job 600), that office was restructed to become the office of the Architectural Chief Consultant, in January 1966, and Vik Adegbite, Chief Architect was promoted as the first Chief Consultant in charge of the Consulting Branch of the GNCC.
Travels and Representations Abroad 1958-1973
Site selection for Ghana’s participation in Nigeria’s International Trade Fair in the late fifties. Leader of Delegation – Vik Adegbite, Chief Architect; Member – Therson-Cofie, Minister of Trade, Member Other officer, Minister of Trade.
United Nations Economic Council for Africa Housing Conferences, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, late fifies. Leader of Delegation – Vik Adegbite, Chief Architect, Member – Enock Hornsby-Odoi, Planner, Ministry of Works and Housing,
Member – J.K.A. Jiagge, Administrator, Ministry of Works and Housing. Housing Trip to Stevenage New Town near London, U.K., Osolo, Norway and San Juan, Puerto Rico – Late fifties. Leader of Delegation- W.E. Arthur –
Managing Director, Ghana Housing Corporation. Member – Vik Adegbite, Chief Architect.
Israel’s Tenth Anniversary 1958 and Architects Recruitment. One-man delegation – Vik Adegbite, Chief Archtect.
United Nations Prefabricated Large Panel Housing Units. One month study tour 1962. Prior to that I had signed on behalf of the Ministry of Works and Housing. The protocol between the Soviet Union and Ghana for the establishment of a large panel housing units for housing in Ghana.
In 1971, I was invited by the United Nations Commission for Africa to be a Consultant, deliver a paper and be a discussion leader at a Seminar on Housing Administration in Africa, in Copenhagen, Denmark September 19 to October 2, 1971. My Paper (HouIWP/16) June 1, 1971, was entitled “Housing Administration in Ghana with particular reference to the Tema Development Corporation. Mr. Osei, Deputy Minister of Works and Housing was in attendance and was so impressed that he joked that he was going to give me a salary raise for making him and Ghana proud.
In my continued housing education, I got the opportunity to visit the following:
- Housing in Ostia near Rome during the tenure of Dr. J.E. Bossman, Ambassador to Italy.
- Visit to the headquarters of Doxiadis Associates, world-class Master Planners and who did the Master Plan of the Newtown of Tema. The visit was in 1973 in Athens, Greece, in my capacity as the Chief Development office of the Tema Development Corporation.
In that same year of 1973, I attended another United Nations Economic Commission Housing Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
In October 1966, I left that office of Chief Consultant to become the Chief Development Officer of the Tema Development Corporation from October 1966 to February 1974 when I left for my former environment in the United States.
At the Tema Development Corporation (TDC), my main tasks were design and research into the design, materials, and methods in low-cost housing. “A Report on a twelve-family experimental non-migratory workmen’s (subordinate and supervisory grades) core or nucleus housing scheme”, at the southeastern corner of Community 8, Tema was submitted to the Ministry of Works and Housing’s Housing Advisor and the Chief Architect of the Public Works Department (PWD) in 1967. In June 1973, when Col. Victor Coker-Appiah was the Commissioner for Works and Housing, he got me to compile housing types from the Ghana Housing Corporation and the Tema Development Corporation into a brochure entitled “House Ownership Scheme, Ghana” for the Ministry of Works and Housing to be sent to the Ghana Embassies abroad for Ghanaians who were interested in purchasing housing in Ghana. This project went off beautifully, too.
I am grateful for the opportunity to come and serve in my own small way.