A three-dimensional model of the city administrative offices and a table full of examples of building materials, made a good impression on the Design Review Commission last night.
“For someone who’s been on Design Review for a long time, this is a rare treat,” said chair, Tom Telfer. “I think the lack of public comment is a testament to the clarity of the presentation.”
Steve Worthington of RMW Architecture gave an overview of the project, particularly for the three new commissioners who are now serving on design review.
For newly-appointed commissioners Michael Barber, Joseph Farrell and Jon Strickling it was their first design review meeting – and for some of them – a first comprehensive look at the plan for city offices.
“There’s been a strong desire from everyone involved that the materials and design conceived all go together,” explained Worthingon, referring to the renovated city hall.
The city administration building plan carries many of the same elements as Novato City Hall, including the clapboard siding painted the city’s signature red, with white accents and a dark-tiled roof.
Later during the project workshop, Worthington ran through an array of design options and the words “value engineering” were used several times where less expensive materials could be used on the roof, siding, windows, planter boxes and the base of the building.
“We’ve lost about a million dollars because of a loss of redevelopment dollars that were part of the budget,” Worthington said.
But the biggest hit of the meeting was the scale model showing the new office building in reference to the city hall and the Community House as well as some of the buildings along Cain Lane.
The model sparked lots of conversation, input and cell phone photography.
New commissioner Michael Barber said that the model provided a level of detail that was impressive. “You see a drawing on a little page or a website and it just doesn’t do it justice,” he said.
Novato resident David Jackson was disappointed that the model showed that the entrance to the city offices was located in the middle of the plaza, rather than near the streets of Machin or Simmons.
“It needs curb appeal,” Jackson said. “If you’re going to spend that much money there should be an effort so it has some presence.”
Resident Pat U’ren has been following the progress of the design and particularly liked the underground parking feature with an entrance off of Cain Lane. “I think it helps the merchants,” she said.
Perhaps thinking about Novato’s hot summers, Robin Diederich brought up the number of windows on the building. “When I see a lot of windows, I think they’re beautiful, but I also think of energy conservation,” Diederich said.
Worthington explained that the south facing side of the building was designed with an overhang to increase shade.
While nobody showed up to specifically to comment on the cost of the building or the downtown location, one public speaker did questions the city council’s decision not to erect story poles on the site to show the building’s height.
“To pursue the upmost transparency, story poles should be put up for the community to see,” said resident Trish Boorstein.
New commissioner Barber, a Novato architect, agreed. “I’ve had to put up story poles for a bathroom remodel so I think for any civic construction project, there should be story poles,” he said.
Overall the comments from the commission were positive as they gave feedback and set some priorities on which materials were favored, for the architect.
According to the city’s senior planner, Stephen Marshall, the city staff will now work with the architect to make the design fit into the reduced budget before it goes back to the city council for review.
The scale model of the new city administration offices will be on display for the public once a location is determined. Notice will be posted on the city’s website.