Firms unveil library designs

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  • | 12:00 p.m. December 18, 2001
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by Glenn Tscimpke

Staff Writer

The four architecture firms vying for the Jacksonville main library contract unveiled their creations before the Competition Advisory Committee and the Professional Services Evaluation Committee (PSEC) Monday at the University of North Florida’s University Center. Six months of planning and design culminated in an hour and a half presentation for each of the four firms.

Contrary to the “lowest bidder” process frequently used in government contracts, each firm was told to design a $95 million library — the amount budgeted for the main library in the Better Jacksonville Plan. Although the firms were given free artistic reign, they were required to adhere to specific functional requirements laid out by both city officials and the citizens of Jacksonville. One by one, representatives presented the models, sketches, floor plans and renderings of their efforts and explained the theme they were trying to achieve with each creation.

While each design presented its own artistic flair, each of the PSEC members were concerned foremost with functionality.

“We certainly want to see a beautiful building,” said Library Director Ken Sivulich. “I need to be confident about the function of the building in terms of how it can serve my customers and my staff.”

Although each presentation was prepared with a $95 million budget, all four plans were over budget, which was another concern among PSEC members.

“The budget is a concern,” said Rex Homlin, library project manager. “We have to have the ability to meet the budget.”

The PSEC includes five members of different City agencies: Ray Reid of the general counsel’s office, chief of the City’s procurement and supply division Jacquie Gibbs, Sivulich, Homlin and treasurer Shari Shuman.

The PSEC will meet today to discuss presentations with the Competition Advisory Committee. Each submission will be evaluated using various criteria, such as ease of access, the use of light, traffic flow within the building and parking considerations. The PSEC will then rank the top three proposals and submit their findings to Mayor John Delaney by 4 p.m. Delaney may concur with the PSEC’s top-ranked presentation. If he does not agree with the selection, the design competition process will begin again. He cannot choose his personal preference; he can only agree or disagree with the PSEC’s recommendation.

“The mayor has to vote on number one or throw the whole thing out,” said Sharon Ashton, the mayor’s press secretary.

The new main library will replace the aging Haydon Burns Library on Ocean Street. Built in 1963, the old building has 82,500 net square feet. Each proposed new library will boast over 200,000 net square feet, more than doubling the current facility. The new library is expect to be complete in summer, 2003.

Delaney is expected to announce the winner of the design competition Thursday.