Lecture Hall Design Committee Kicks Off RFP Review Process

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Rendering showing the placement of a lecture hall adjacent to the existing library building.
— Courtesy city of Newport Beach

The proposed library lecture hall is one step closer to booking events and entertaining residents after an inaugural committee meeting this week.

The Library Lecture Hall Design Committee met for the first time ever on Wednesday in a conference room at Newport Beach Civic Center.

As the first item of business, Mayor Diane Dixon appointed Jill Johnson-Tucker chair and Janet Ray as vice chair.

Johnson-Tucker said it will be more of a “round table discussion.” This is very early on in the process, several members agreed.

“This is the syllabus handing out day on our first day of college,” Johnson-Tucker said.

The new committee has two more upcoming meetings on the books so far. Committee members agreed that they wanted to review the RFP responses, then share their opinions and hear feedback from others before officially ranking them.

It is a qualifications-based process, explained Senior Civil Engineer Peter Tauscher.

City staff hope to have a recommendation on the lecture hall before City Council in October or early November.

About 36 months is a realistic timeline for the entire process, which includes one year for construction, Tauscher explained.

The first meeting of the Library Lecture Hall Design Committee on Wednesday.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

Previously, the proposed project would include a state-of-the-art, 275-seat auditorium with the ability to add more folding chairs. There would be a green room, restrooms, a small lobby, and other amenities.

The primary site selected by the committee is on the northwest corner of the library’s parking lot, adjacent to the library building.

The budget would likely be between $7 to $8 million, Public Works Director Dave Webb said Wednesday.

The group discussed project history and development, and the RFP and responses received.

There were nine companies invited to the site tour, and the city received seven proposals.

It’s a good group of proposals, Tauscher opined.

Talking about LEED qualifications, and the building being “green,” Webb noted that a lot of that is already incorporated into the building code, without the added cost of applying to be LEED qualified.

“I want it to be all those things,” Johnson-Tucker said, but it needs to be worth the cost, she added.

The next meeting committee members will review the proposals, then possibly at the following meeting they will interview the top choices.

Several committee members emphasized the importance of community input. It’s for the community, so residents should be involved, several agreed.

Johnson-Tucker confirmed that all RFP proposals and any other pertinent information would be available online.

It’s been in discussions for about six years, Dixon pointed out. There have been a lot of start and stops over the years, Johnson-Tucker added.

In March, City Council supported the idea during a study session. Johnson-Tucker presented the idea and emphasized the growing need for a lecture hall.

Attendance for library events was just under 70,000 in 2018, with many of those events sold out several months in advance. Events are usually presented in the Friends Room, a 2,600-square-foot multi-purpose room with a capacity to seat 187 people, although its sightlines are not conducive for lectures. Seating is on stackable chairs and the AV is not up-to-date, she commented at the time.

Others in attendance included Library Services Director Tim Hetherton, NB Public Library Foundation CEO Meg Linton, and former Planning Commissioner and current Finance Committee member Larry Tucker.

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