http://almanacnews.com/print/story/print/2012/01/18/atherton-task-force-recommends-firm-to-design-town-center


Almanac

News - January 18, 2012

Atherton task force recommends firm to design Town Center

by Renee Batti

An advisory task force that shepherded the design competition for a new Atherton Town Center is recommending that the town hire the Nichols Melburg & Rossetto architectural firm to proceed with the proposed, privately funded project.

NM&R proposed two, two-story buildings connected by an arched loggia and including a community center with a rooftop terrace. The buildings, reflecting a more traditional style than the competing design, would total about 20,000 square feet, according to architect Les Melburg.

NM&R competed with two partnering firms — Siegel & Strain Architects and Goring & Straja Architects — in a contest that provided no fee to the firms. The latter firms designed the Portola Valley Town Center, and proposed two one-story buildings totaling about 12,000 square feet, with an uncovered walkway in between.

The task force, headed by City Councilwoman Elizabeth Lewis, will ask the council to approve the recommendation at its Jan. 18 meeting.

But even if the council accepts the choice, NM&R's conceptual design is likely to evolve in the next phases of the process, which include an assessment of space needed today, as compared with what was required in 2010, when the competition was launched. Those needs may differ because of the layoff last year of 13 town employees as the town outsourced two major departments.

The process is also expected to include a public outreach effort in which residents can offer suggestions and comment about what they want to see in the new center.

Task force members used a matrix method to evaluate the two firms, according to a report from Councilwoman Lewis.

During the course of the task force's work, it came up with a projected cost of $10 million to $12 million for a new center, according to Ms. Lewis. The task force also agreed that funding would be raised through private donations, noting that Portola Valley paid for its recently built $20 million center with $17 million in residents' contributions.

Also on the Jan. 18 council agenda is a recommendation to extend the contract of Interim City Manager John Danielson for a maximum of 12 months, and authorization to hire an executive search firm to recruit a permanent city manager. Both items are on the consent calendar, which allows the council to automatically approve the proposals along with other items with no discussion.

The council meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Town Council Chambers, 94 Ashfield Road in the Town Center.

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