Architects continue to refine plan for Atherton's new civic center


The architects charged with designing Atherton's new civic center have been meeting all month with those who will be using the complex to try to get a consensus on enough details so they can continue with the design.

The next design phase will start to pin down where the buildings will be placed, how their interiors will be divided and what they might look like, and is expected to continue through October or November.

On Tuesday, June 23, architects Adam Woltag and Pauline Souza, partners in the WRNS Studio architectural firm, took part in the last of six June public meetings to ask the public what they want the new civic complex to look like. That meeting was immediately followed by a meeting with the Civic Center Advisory Committee, made up of Atherton residents plus council members Rick DeGolia and Elizabeth Lewis, to get their input.

Mr. Woltag said comments at the June meetings did not clearly favor either of two possible designs for placement of the civic center buildings that had been presented. So, the architects combined elements of both designs into a new scheme, which they showed the Civic Center Advisory Committee. The advisory committee will meet again on Monday, July 6, at 4:30 p.m. in the town's council chambers, at 94 Ashfield Road, and the architects said they will return with a more refined possible scheme.

The plan they showed the advisory committee has a stand-alone one-story library near where the current library is located, with a police station building and a town administration building adjacent to Fair Oaks Lane and connected to each other by a second-story bridge or walkway. "Even though it looks like two buildings, it functions as one," said Mr. Woltag.

One question still to be resolved is what will become of the town's historic council chambers building. The scheme presented to the Civic Center Advisory Committee showed a new council chambers in a one-story building adjacent to the police department, with the current council chambers to be renovated for use as an auxiliary to the library that could possibly contain a small cafe and rooms for the town's history archives in it.

But, with funds to pay for the new civic center still not raised, Civic Center Advisory Committee members seemed to be becoming more concerned about the cost of the project. They asked the architects to explore how much money could be saved by renovating the current council chambers so they could accommodate more people and continue to be used as the town's meeting space.

The advisory committee also agreed that consideration of underground parking for the complex, another major expense, should be taken off the table.

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