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Few local architects on public works list

POULSBO — Before the city council approved the contract with BLRB Architects of Tacoma to design the new municipal campus Nov. 16, local architects asked why they weren’t considered.

An examination of the city’s consultant roster for architectural design and engineering services obtained through a public records request by the North Kitsap Herald revealed a possible answer.

The roster obtained by the Herald differs from the one on the city’s Web site as it has seven additional architectural firms, including BLRB.

BLRB was awarded $1.16 million in architecture design and engineering fees with $216,000 of that earmarked for local participation through geo-tech subcontracting, wetland subcontracting, interior furnishings design, architect participation and construction administration services.

In its response to the public records request, the city states, “You also asked for dates when they submitted the paperwork, however, that is not included on the Roster listing and has not been included as part of the Consultant Roster report.”

Two of 15

Only two of the 15 firms on that roster are based in Kitsap County: Lawrence L. Craig Architects of Poulsbo and Miles Yanick and Company of Bainbridge Island. The other 13 including BRLB are based in Seattle, Tacoma or Gig Harbor.

However, when requests for qualifications (RFQs) for the municipal campus project were sent out on May 3, 2005, the two Kitsap County firms were not included.

RFQs were sent to Ambia Enduring Architecture, Arai Jackson Ellison Murakami, Architects BCRA, Architects Rasmussen Triebelhorn, AustinCina Architects, BLRB, Castino Architecture, Helix Design Group, Makers Architecture and Urban Design, Merritt Architecture, Miller Hull Partnership and Thomas Cook Fitzgerald Architecture.

Of the 13, Castino is based in Gig Harbor, the rest are based in Tacoma and Seattle.

• Unsolicited inquiries

Before the official RFQs were sent, e-mails dating from April 26 to April 29 show that Public Works Director Jeff Lincoln instructed his assistant to call architects including those not previously on the city’s consultant roster to submit their qualifications.

An April 26, 2005 e-mail from Susan Scott, marketing manager of Architects Rasmussen Triebelhorn to Lincoln responds to an earlier call from Lincoln’s assistant asking for information about the firm’s experience in city halls.

In an April 28, 2005 e-mail from Ron Thomas of Thomas Cook Fitzgerald Architecture to Lincoln, Thomas thanks Lincoln for encouraging his assistant to call them.

“Roz (Hefner) encouraged us to send along a brief qualifications package to ensure that we were included on your roster of consultants,” Ron Thomas wrote.

Two days after the RFQs were dated, May 5, Craig Curtis from the Miller Hull Partnership sent Lincoln an e-mail with the firm’s qualifications asking to be added to the list.

In letters dated June 6, 2005, eight of the firms were eliminated from consideration leaving BLRB, Architects Rasmussen Triebelhorn, Arai Jackson Ellison Murakimi, and Helix Design Group as the finalists for interviews.

• Out and back in again

Those four firms with the exception of BLRB interviewed on June 16, but none of the four were selected. BLRB withdrew June 7 as noted in an e-mail from Lincoln to Finance Director Nanci Lien, Parks and Recreation Director Mary McCluskey, Mayor Bruce and the rest of the interview committee which also included Councilman Mike Regis.

The June 7 e-mail states: “Very bad news from the A&E front. BLRB, the firm that did the Gig Harbor City Hall, has withdrawn from the interview and consideration for the architecture work for the municipal campus.”

Lincoln subsequently offered that opportunity to Ambia, which also interviewed on June 16.

Lien and McCluskey both expressed their disappoint in e-mails responding to notice that BLRB had withdrawn from consideration.

However, rejection letters were sent to Ambia, Rasmussen Triebelhorn, Jackson, Ellison, Murakami and Helix on July 14.

In an e-mail to Tom Bates from BLRB, Lincoln attached a final draft of a letter notifying him that BLRB had been selected by the interview committee for the project.

BLRB interviewed on July 7, according to the e-mail, but there were no records indicating BLRB’s renewed interest in the project between Lincoln’s June 7 e-mail and the subsequent July 14 e-mail.

No explanation has been given for the delay other than Regis stating in the Aug. 24 edition of the Herald that BLRB fits the city’s needs better than the other four firms that were interviewed.

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