The National Museum and Art Gallery is a stone’s throw away at the top of Frederick Street, as is Memorial Square; the newly erected National Centre for the Performing Arts (NAPA), which was built on the site of the former Princes Building, stands directly opposite.
The Princes Building, located in what had come to be known as “The Little Savannah”, had been a beloved city landmark for over a century. It was originally commissioned at a cost of $76,800 and was to be ready for a visit by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1861. Sadly, the royal visit never materialised, but the building was put to good use – its ballroom hosted many fashionable society galas, theatrical productions, receptions and bazaars over the decades – it was even the venue for the inaugural Music Festival event. Some areas of the building were also used to house classrooms (it is not widely known that Queen’s Royal College actually began operating at the Princes Building, only moving to its present spot in 1904) and offices, but perhaps its most popular use was as the home of the late Lord Kitchener’s Calypso Revue Tent. The Princes Building was destroyed by a fire in 1977, but its grounds continued to facilitate public sporting activities such as lawn tennis until the location was earmarked as the site for NAPA.
Completed in 2002, Princes Court, in contrast with its predecessor, was constructed with a budget of about $48 million; its use is strictly as a commercial lease space, housing the prestigious corporate offices of Atlantic LNG Company of Trinidad and Tobago and Guardian General Limited. Still, it is a building that pays homage to the area’s colonial past: not only does its façade salute its architectural predecessors via subtle etched glass renderings (the innovative, seven-storey, etched glass curtain wall houses the elevator shaft and features the monumental classical order from which the building’s design was derived, with inset panels of local vernacular architecture at its base), but it boasts stunning views of the Princes Building Park, the Queen’s Park Savannah and the city of Port of Spain.
63,000 square feet are spread out over six floors, including full basement parking (with additional space at ground level) and a rooftop entertainment terrace, making the accommodation both spacious and comfortable. A state-of-the-art Building Management System (BMS) monitors the Princes Court’s energy efficiency and security systems.