The Library Lecture Hall Design Committee narrowed down the possible architects for the proposed project down to four at a meeting this week.
The group met Monday in the Crystal Cove conference room at the Newport Beach Civic Center to discuss the seven submitted architect proposals. About a dozen people attended.
Each committee member, along with city Senior Civil Engineer Peter Tauscher, all of whom independently reviewed the proposals prior to the meeting, shared their top choices on Monday.
“All seven are very capable and no matter which one we pick I think we’d have a good team to work with,” Tauscher said.
Although for their own various reasons, Tauscher and committee members generally agreed on their selections. Ultimately, the group decided to invite four architects to present in front of the group at the next meeting (click name of company to view their proposal): Rob Wellington Quigley, Robert R. Coffee Architect + Associates, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, and Sander Architects and Mithun / Hodgetts + Fung.
Mayor Diane Dixon said she wants to see an iconic design, but not something that competes with the Civic Center. They should complement each other, she added, and it should still be architecturally creative on its own.
Committee Chair Jill Johnson-Tucker gravitated toward the proposals that offered more of a personalized style with each example building rather than the more institutional options.
“I focused more on… who could create a building that we’d be interested in having (in the city)?” Johnson-tucker noted.
Wellington Quigley and Coffee were easily the leading the pack of proposals.
Tauscher and others pointed out Wellington Quigley’s experience, notably the lecture hall at San Diego Central Library, is a big plus. The San Diego lecture hall is very “appealing,” Committee Chair Jill Johnson-Tucker commented, a sentiment several of her fellow committee members echoed.
Wellington Quigley appears enthusiastic about the project, several committee members agreed. He submitted some rough sketches with his proposal, an addition the group appreciated.
“I want to work with someone who just can’t wait to see this beautiful lecture hall on the hill,” Vice Chair Janet Ray said.
Tauscher pointed out Coffee’s work in Newport Beach, including OASIS Senior Center. Coffee is also a local resident, which several committee members mentioned. He would likely take a personal interest in the project, Dixon said.
“Coffee understands us and understands the project,” Ray opined.
Both also have good groups of sub-consultants, Tauscher added.
Bohlin Cywinski Jackson is the group that designed the Newport Beach Civic Center was also near the top of most lists.
They have experience and a solid proposal, several agreed.
Committee member Karen Clark pointed out that public perception of the Civic Center is that it was over-budget and that presenting the same architectural group for another public project may not fare well in the community.
Tauscher added that BCJ’s schedule is a bit tight at 14 months and may not be realistic.
Several committee members were torn between the proposals from Sander/Hodgetts and the John Sergio Fisher and Associates.
Sander has worked on budget-conscious projects in the past, Committee member Matthew Witte pointed out.
“I liked their creativity,” Clark said. “Different than some of these others (that are more basic buildings)… would I go in and say, ‘Wow, this is so cool’?”
Others opined that Fisher’s proposal was “unenthusiastic” and lacked creativity.
Ultimately, the Sander/Hodgetts just barely edged out the others for the final spot in the top four that will be asked to return.
Other submissions came from LPA and Perkins Eastman Dougherty. All seven proposals are available online on the city’s website.
The committee hopes to head to City Council with a recommendation in November.
The next committee meeting is Sept. 19 at 8:30 a.m. (and is likely to last into the mid-afternoon as architects make their presentations and answer questions) at Crystal Cove conference room in bay 2D at the Newport Beach Civic Center.
For more information, visit newportbeachca.gov/trending/projects/library-lecture-hall