The public finally got a first glimpse of what a future Washington State Patrol headquarters might look like on the state Capitol Campus.
In a meeting that lasted about three hours late Wednesday evening, three competing teams of architects and construction firms laid out their proposals after months of secrecy. And all three concepts had a lot in common, featuring rectangular-shaped buildings with a lot of glass and a modernistic design standing about four or five stories’ tall on the Capitol grounds’ side.
Each also has an interior atrium to bring in light to work spaces.
“They are all impressive. I would hate to have to pick,” said state Rep. Hans Dunshee, a Democrat from Snohomish who put the project into the state capital budget that he co-authored in 2013. Dunshee said all three approaches are designed to beat the private real estate market for cost as well as operate on far less energy than typical public buildings.
This post is the guts of my story prepared on an early deadline for print editions of the morning papers.
The design teams – Sellen Construction and ZGF Architects; Hoffman Construction, Belay Architecture and GBD Architects; and Mortenson Construction and SRG Partnership Inc. – all touted their high-efficiency systems for using low amounts of energy for heat and light and also efficient use of water, part of the project’s requirements.
Each also offered some version of a public plaza, entry, lawn or welcoming feature for the public on the Capitol side. Sellen/ZGF also had the state seal above the lower, back-side entry facing downtown Olympia, while the Mortenson/SRG team said its project has a plaza on the lower side facing the city.
Marvin Doster, a member of the Mortenson team, said the project offers “a handshake with the city,’’ while Greg Benton of Belay Architecture noted a public area at the Capitol-side entry and the potential for commercial shop space on the city side.
The teams offered a blizzard of information with no written material for the public to go back and look at, however. Only one team released an artist's rendition to Enterprise Services and - by extension to the public - showing what its project looks like.
Enterprise Services’ selection committee has been evaluating all three bids since early in the month. It will look closer at all three plans over the next week and announce an apparent winner on March 28.
Whatever is decided, the $82 million project is in legal limbo – after Dunshee and his Republican rival on the capital budget, Sen. Jim Honeyford, tangled this year on whether the project can go forward. After the lawmakers failed to agree on a capital budget that declared the project dead or alive, officials at the Office of Financial Management and Department of Enterprise Services now must examine their options.
What is known is that the state has $13 million authorized by the Legislature last year to continue the design work and potentially clear the site at 11th Avenue and Capitol Way; the project requires demolishing an existing office building and parking garage with about 200 stalls. Another $69 million is needed to finance construction.
Most of the roughly 70 people who showed up for the event appeared to be involved with one of the three design teams or with state agencies or the city.
Olympia Mayor Steve Buxbaum was unwilling to announce a favorite but said the project needs to be pedestrian and visitor friendly and create a transition between the Capitol Campus and downtown businesses.
Citizen activist Walt Jorgensen had concerns the public is still not getting adequate chances to shape the design plans. Rick Browning, project director for Enterprise Services, said the schematic drawings completed so far can still be augmented as the winning design is fleshed out.
Jorgensen was blocked from getting access to project design documents last week when Thurston County Superior Court Judge Gary Tabor issued a temporary restraining order in favor of the three design-build teams.
Enterprise Services spokesman Curt Hart said the agency intends to get copies of Wednesday's PowerPoint presentations to share with the public.