Airdrie City council gave the thumbs up to a preliminary schematic design of the new multi-use facility and library during its regular council meeting on Sept. 19, providing feedback and paving the way for the design development stage of the project to get underway.
During the meeting, the design team provided an overview of the design process and shared how they have built upon the project vision, defined project objectives, and implemented the collective input from council from previous council meetings.
Elements of the schematic design presented to council included a 3D visualization/rendering of the exterior and interior of the building, as well as an exterior and interior colour scheme, materials, and finishing.
Additionally, the design team reviewed floor plans and elevations, conceptual landscape design, and site parking.
"We are so thrilled to be back here today and share the progress we’ve made since our initial visioning sessions at the beginning of the year,” said Stephanie Yeung, studio lead with Gibbs Gage Architects during the presentation to council.
“We also hope as we review the drawings from the report that we are able to convey the aspiration that the design project team has for this building, and also communicate the excitement and potential we really feel the building has.”
Yeung added though the team is confident in their design, they understand there will be areas that call for critique from council, and this is to be expected as part of the design process.
“We still have many months of the design process still to go,” she added. “We very much believe that the major moves made to date do align with project objectives.
“We are confident that any concerns brought forward today can be resolved early in design development, so we may still gain your endorsement to stay on the project schedule.”
Previously, council approved the project to proceed to the schematic design phase after approving the Concept Design Option 1 as presented by Gibbs Gage Architects on May 2. Thereafter, Gibbs Gage and the project design team began work on further developing the design.
“At this point, the design is not complete or resolved in full detail, as this is a snapshot in the design process,” read a council agenda report.
Though the design is flexible, Yeung said various elements would be difficult to change at this stage of the process without delaying the project or incurring additional costs to redesign.
These changes include positioning of the facility on the site, major feature locations on site, and the general size and scale of the facility.
“What can be refined as the project progresses from schematic design to detailed design are the selection and determination of exterior materials, detailed program room layouts, glazing and door layouts, and roof design,” continues the report.
Yeung added the design team aimed at creating a facility that is a catalyst for downtown Airdrie’s revitalization, a facility that offers multiple activities, and provides a place that would serve as a “hub for community development.”
“We believe that the groundwork that is presented to you in this report does achieve those things,” Yeung stated.
She added the presentation of the schematic design serves as a milestone in the project and equates to about 30 per cent completion in the design process. Yeung acknowledged there is still much work ahead for the team and council.
“It is very important for us to share these ideas with council, but also crucial for our construction manager to have the compiled document to price and test these schematics against the current market and the established budget,” she said.
According to Chris Monson, project lead at Colliers Project Leaders, who presented a project update during the Sept. 19 council meeting, the multi-use facility and library is on track to meet the forecasted $62.7 million budget, with $4.853 million committed at this time.
Following the schematic design overview, Coun. Ron Chapman said he “loved” the schematic design as presented, adding he liked the appearance of the exterior of the library, as depicted.
“It’s not a square building. It gives you something to look at,” he said of the modern-looking design.
Chapman voiced minor concerns with the selection of wood for the exterior of the building, noting the removal of graffiti may prove problematic.
“I hate to say it, but if somebody takes a can of spray paint to wood, it’s much tougher to get that off that it was if it was a clad building. I love the whole [idea], but in reality I don’t know how that’s going to work when it comes to graffiti,” Chapman said.
Coun. Al Jones echoed Chapman’s sentiments, asserting the schematic design was better than he first imagined it would be.
“I couldn’t get out of my head this square box, but you brought it to life on paper and it looks really sharp,” he said.
“I like the fact you are looking at the sustainable portions of it because costs moving forward, we know things aren’t getting any cheaper. It’s a different world that we’re transitioning into. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes.”
Coun. Tina Petrow shared concerns and feedback presented at the Library Board meeting, but stated she feels overall, the building has an “institutional” feel and felt implementing warmer materials could help to create a more welcoming feel.
Coun. Candace Kolson also touched on the “institutional” feel of the initial schematic design.
“I don’t see an institutional look in this at all,” said Chapman in response to his colleague’s claims. “I think it’s very opening and inviting. I like what I see in the conceptual drawings. I trust the professionals. I trust the process.”
Furthermore, Monson said it is his experience the design process is an evolution, and in order for the design team to receive feedback, they had to put forth a high-level design to gauge the interest of council.
“Now that we’ve received your feedback, we can take that back to our consulting team and see what other options are available, while still meeting the intent with the things you do like about the building,” he said.