Atherton panel endorses civic center design


Atherton's Civic Center Advisory Committee has endorsed a design scheme for the town's new civic center that will go to the City Council for approval on April 20.

The advisory committee asked for a few tweaks in the design, which architects WRNS Studio will return with for the committee's March 7 meeting, scheduled for 4:30 p.m. in the town's council chamber at 94 Ashfield Road.

Among the requested refinements are changes to the windows facing Fair Oaks Lane and to the council chambers, and a look at adding a tower, or campanile, to the town offices building.

A public meeting to present the design is scheduled for March 21 at 5:30 p.m. in Holbrook-Palmer Park's Jennings Pavilion.

After the public meeting, the Civic Center Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet again on April 4 to incorporate any significant feedback from the public meeting before forwarding the design to the City Council for approval.

The plan the committee has endorsed shows an L-shaped Mission-style police and town offices building with a lobby entered from Fair Oaks Lane separating two wings. A new council chambers building, to double as an emergency operations center, is at the end of the police wing.

Those buildings are all in what the committee has been calling "Santa Barbara" style, with stucco walls, clay tile roofs, and features such as arches and divided pane windows.

By contrast, the library, sited close to the current library's location, is of a sleek modern style with lots of curves and a flat roof. The existing historic town council chambers will be retained and renovated as an auxiliary to the library. The site plan shows more than 100,000-square feet of landscaped areas and outdoor gathering spaces.

Much works remains. The architects will now refine the design, including floor plans and site plans. Specifics for the engineering, building materials, landscaping, plumbing, lighting, mechanical and other details will be worked out.

Money also must be raised. While cost estimates for the current design haven't been made, in October the town's consultant estimated the cost at nearly $43 million. The town has funds set aside for the library and toward the building and development offices, which together the consultants said account for 36 percent of the total costs.

Atherton Now, the nonprofit raising money for the civic center, reported earlier in February that it has $5.2 million in cash and donations from 42 donors, including four $1 million donations, leaving at least $20 million still to be raised.

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