Design firm selected for City Hall project

Design firm selected for City Hall project
Council members recently awarded a contract to an architectural firm for design and construction documents to replace its deteriorating City Hall Photo by Bianca Kaplanek

DEL MAR — Plans to replace City Hall took a major step forward April 6 when council members approved agreements with a design firm and an environmental consultant.

“Tonight is a very exciting milestone,” Planning Director Kathy Garcia said.

The Miller Hull Partnership LLC was selected from an applicant pool of more than a dozen architectural teams to provide design and construction documents for an amount not to exceed $550,000.

A seven-member ad hoc committee made up of five residents and two council members was formed in January to recommend a design team for the project.

The group first reviewed statements of qualifications that had been submitted from 14 firms. That list was narrowed to Architects Hanna Gabriel Wells, Miller Hull and Safdie Rabines Architects.

“While there were many qualified firms, it was felt that these three firms were the best qualified with the most relevant coastal work, appropriate scale of built projects, experience with meaningful community participation, and understanding of the Del Mar community,” the staff report states.

Those three then submitted proposals that presented their approach to the project and a scope of work. Interviews were held with the primary team members.

One firm was unanimously eliminated, and there was “a robust discussion around the final two,” Councilman Don Mosier said, adding that in the end, Miller Hull “really seemed to understand the village character” and presented plans to build based on what is in the community already.

He said the firm also has some clever ideas for community engagement, including hosting a barbecue.

“I know that food and wine does attract Del Mar residents,” Mosier said. “I’m looking forward to working with this team.”

Mike Jobes, the firm’s principal designer, said his team spent a lot of time in the city “trying to understand where this project fits into the fabric of this town” and identifying “that real human scale that characterizes Del Mar.”

He said a city hall can be more than a civic center. “It can be the heart of the community,” he added. “This is the kind of project that we love to do.”

Miller Hull has offices in the state of Washington and, since 2011, San Diego.

Council also authorized a task order with RECON to prepare an environmental impact report for no more than $250,000, including “a healthy contingency” of $33,507, Garcia said, because environmental work often results in “unforeseen circumstances.”

The firm is one of half a dozen under contract with Del Mar to work on California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, compliance.

All six submitted proposals that ranged from about $168,000 to $268,000.

Garcia said RECON, which submitted  a bid of $216,500, “best met the needs of the city” and proposed to shorten the schedule by two months.

The company completed the EIR for the village specific plan and a mitigated negative declaration for the citywide streetscape project.

RECON also provided a detailed methodology for assessing two key criteria within the proposed EIR — traffic and aesthetics.

“RECON’s bid, while not the lowest, offered an expanded scope for evaluating the aesthetic impact of the project on public and private views,” according to the staff report. “They proposed the preparation of detailed neighborhood character assessments, 3-D visual simulations from key vantage points and a visual impact assessment report.”

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