Archive for Thursday, January 25, 2007

Architects court school board

January 25, 2007

A decision on which architectural firm will be chosen to lead the school district on a possible bond issue won't be decided until February.

After hearing presentations from three firms Monday night, the Baldwin Board of Education members said they would choose a firm at its Feb. 12 meeting.

"I think the board felt like they were going to get a lot of information from the architects last night," Supt. Paul Dorathy said Tuesday. "I think they wanted some time to digest all of that information that was presented to them. They also wanted to have some follow up information after that meeting. I believe the board will come in and make a decision at the February meeting, based on the information they have found."

The three firms that presented information Monday were ACI Architects, the DLR Group and Hollis and Miller. Each made presentations for about 30 minutes before answering a few questions from the board members.

"The three firms that were represented gave us a lot of food for thought," Board President Alison Bauer said. "They all seemed to have different strengths. Now we will read through everything and make a decision."

The choice to hold off making a decision was well received by many of the board members. Several of them still had questions left unanswered.

Board Member Scott Lauridsen is looking for a fee structure plan from two firms, because he said he is concerned about the cost.

"They were pretty specific on their capabilities and prior performance, so we got a flavor of that," Lauridsen said. "The third component of this is the cost. Just like anything you buy, it really depends on cost, performance and capability. We are trying to get a handle on that.

"We asked them to do a hypothetical $10 million building," Lauridsen said. "The last firm presented construction costs all the way from $0 to beyond $10 million. We didn't get that clarified with the other firms, so we want to go back and get that done."

ACI Architects

ACI was the first group to present Monday night. The group has offices in Leawood and Kansas City, Mo. Management team members Paul James and Michael Kautz represented the firm. ACI was the group that helped the Baldwin district with its last bond issue in 2001.

James began by stating the four reasons to choose ACI. Those were credibility, trust, partnership and value. The firm has more than 50 years experience in designing educational facilities.

"We value you as a client and have appreciated your feedback," James said.

The presenters went on to show a possible timeline for the district's bond issue. It included a November 2007 vote, a 14-month construction phase beginning in June 2008 and the building opening in August 2009.

"We are designing it for you," Kautz said. "We want to make sure it fits the value of your school district."

Board Member Ande Parks wanted to know how involved Kautz would be during the entire process.

"I would be at every meeting that we would have during the planning and design phase," Kautz said.

Board Member Ruth Barkley asked if they preferred using a general contractor or construction management.

"We are very comfortable with either one," James said. "Right now we are at about 50-50 with either one."

ACI has worked with the Bonner Springs district, Liberty, Mo. district and Wellsville.

DLR Group

The second firm to present Monday was the DLR Group, out of Overland Park. Mitch Hanna, John Fuller and Kevin Greischer represented the DLR group.

They also started by giving some background information. DLR has more than 40 years experience of educational planning. All of their Kansas clients have passed their bond issues.

The DLR Group was recently named No. 1 for educational and (?) criminal justice facilities by the World Architect Magazine.

One of the main issues the DLR Group spoke about was consensus building, which is gaining public interest before a bond issue vote.

"I think our strength is consensus building and getting a bond issue to pass," Fuller said.

They presented three possible scenarios for timelines, all of which had an August 2009 opening of a new building. The three men also gave tips to the district when it comes time to build public interest in the vote.

The board members once again asked questions about the financial impact and fee structure. Fuller said the firm has a 0.5 percent fee for pre-bond work. He went on to say the district doesn't have to pay that fee until the bond passes, no matter how many times it takes to pass.

Barkley once again asked about using a general contractor or construction management.

"We've done both, but I really think it has to do with the type of project you are working on," Greischer said. "We look at those project by project. We try to help you get that decided early."

The DLR Group has designed schools in Eudora, Lawrence, Spring Hill and Hutchinson.

Hollis and Miller

The final firm to present Monday was the Hollis and Miller Group. It has offices in Overland Park and Lee's Summit, Mo. The firm was founded in 1950 and has done more than 1,200 school projects.

Kirk Horner and Ken Low represented the firm at the meeting. Horner said he specializes in long-range planning and helping clients balance their budget, service and design. Low said he is good at budget maintenance.

The two men presented information on the process of creating a long-range plan for the district. They have used four groups to help create the plan at other districts. Those groups are staff, administration, patrons and the community.

They also discussed the steps that are used in building the bond issue. Then the board members asked the same questions that they asked the other firms.

Horner said the long-range plan has a fixed amount of $19,000 attached to it with the firm.

"This is our way of being fair and open about it," Horner said. "We want to be up front with you since we don't know what you have in mind yet."

Hollis and Miller have designed schools in De Soto, Louisburg, Olathe and Gardner.

Decision pending

At the last school board meeting, Dorathy said he hoped for a decision at Monday's meeting, but he doesn't believe the extra weeks will hurt the district's schedule.

"I think we are OK on our schedule to this point," Dorathy said. "I also think that the board is going to be very careful not to push this and make a hasty decision. I think they will take the time necessary and if that means pushing the schedule back, then they will."

On Monday, members of the school board traveled to area schools to see the architect's products. That information, along with the presentations, will now help the board choose an architect.

"We visited different buildings from all three architects," Bauer said. "They were all very interesting, unique and had good ideas for kids. We didn't see a bad building. We saw good examples of their architecture. We will now make some phone calls and talk to people that have worked with the different firms. We will also digest all of the stuff we got from them and see what's all there. Then we will make our decision from that."

The next board meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Feb. 12 at the District Office.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.