Eleven architects in city hall running

POULSBO — It’s a race of 11 architectural firms vying to design Poulsbo’s new city hall.

Requests for Qualification responses were collected Friday afternoon, and the city’s Long Range Planning Committee will meet this morning to narrow the field and name the top three finalists.

With a budget of about $12.4 million, Poulsbo is continuing its efforts to expedite the process as much as possible. The city most recently made the decision to purchase part of the necessary land at the 3rd Avenue and Moe Street site for $425,000. The remainder of the land will be purchased by May 2008 for $1.2 million.

During an LRPC meeting Friday, Poulsbo Mayor Kathryn Quade said she was pleased with the applicant turnout.

“I think having 11 responses is very exciting,” she said.

LRPC members had the weekend and early this week to study each presentation and determine their favorites.

City hall project manager, the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority, will also review the applicants and recommend its choice to the city by today.

KCCHA director of urban housing Gary Tusberg said each firm is a formidable one.

“I would say we don’t have anybody who’s responded who couldn’t do the job,” he said. The Housing Authority will use reference calls and project history to help determine which architect fits best with the city’s work — an important process as the city’s role in the building design will be a participative one.

After finalists are chosen, they will be invited to make presentations and answer questions during the Dec. 12 LRPC meeting. Following this session, the committee will make its recommendation.

The selected team will then enter into negotiations with the city for a design contract.

But before the committee can make its recommendation, there’s a bit of homework to do.

“We’ll each need to be very familiar with each firm’s submittal and how well they meet our criteria,” said Councilman and LRPC member Dale Rudolph. “Our final decision will be based on a combination of what we learned in the written submittals and the firms’ answers to our questions.”

Also key to the final decision will be the architects’ track record for involving the public in similar projects elsewhere, Quade said.

“This building will serve our entire community, so we’ll be looking for architectural firms who are exceptional at public process, and truly understand that the design needs to fit in with our community’s unique character and needs,” she said.

The RFQ laid out requirements for the selected firm to complete design in accordance with a 2008 construction start date, as well as develop detailed cost estimates when necessary. The city plans to move into the new space in 2009.

The RFQ also specified the basic outline of a 30,000-square-foot office building and council chamber with no less than 75 underground or underbuilding parking stalls and architecture of Scandinavian or Pacific Northwest character. Low-impact development techniques where feasible and coming within budget were also listed as desirable.

The architectural firms applying for the city hall design job include: A.R.T. (Architects Rasmussen Triebelhorn), ARC Architects, Lewis Architecture & Interior Design, Calvin Jordan Associates, Arai Jackson Ellison Murakami LLP, The Driftmier Architects, PS, LMN Architects, SRG Partnership, Belay Architecture, Johnston Architects and Lawrence L. Craig Architects, PS.

Also in works for the city is the sale of the Klingle Property, a 9.5-acre parcel of land at the end of 2nd Avenue.

The city is considering selling all or part of the 10th Avenue property — originally purchased for city hall in 2005 for $2.1 million and later abandoned after citizens voted to keep city hall downtown — as well as delay construction of a new police station until costs for the city hall project are more accurately known.

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