COLUMBIA — Members of the public and city officials gathered Thursday at the Daniel Boone Building to review proposed plans for the renovation and expansion of Columbia’s City Hall.
The proposed project, which will also include an accompanying community plaza and a revamped streetscape, is meant to make city services more accessible to the public, improve working conditions for city employees and build an economic and environmentally-friendly facility that will adequately serve the community for the next 20 years.
Building architects from Chiodini Associates, landscape architect Jeffrey Bruce and artist Howard Meehan were on hand to answer questions and gather public input on the proposed construction. Assistant City Manager Tony St. Romaine said the architects at Chiodini have been responsible for the building design for the past year. Bruce, the plaza and streetscape architect for the project, completed the master plan for the Avenue of the Columns streetscape in 2005.
“The need for this project came out of a municipal facilities master plan that we put together in 2002,” St. Romaine said. “We looked at all of our core operations in the downtown area and tried to forecast what those needs would be in terms of municipal office space needs for our city employees for the next 20 years.”
St. Romaine said that the City Hall renovation and expansion project marks the last phase of that master plan.
Meehan, an accomplished sculptor from Santa Fe, N.M., was selected by the city’s Standing Committee on Public Art and Commission on Cultural Affairs for the project after a national search for artists. He is tasked with developing artwork for the City Hall’s Percent for Art project, which is part of the City Hall’s overall construction. Meehan described the centerpiece of his concept as a “30-foot tall stainless steel triangulated sculpture with a 4-foot diameter hole in the top center” that would be erected on the ground of the plaza.
According to the Office of Cultural Affairs, the Percent for Art budget is part of the overall construction project. That budget is kept to just 1 percent of the overall project, and covers the contract with the artist as well as the maintenance fund for future care of the art.
“The vertical stake-like structure will create shadows on the ground of the plaza of the new city hall building,” Meehan said. “As the sun tracks east to west, it will cast shadows onto historic markers and a time capsule embedded in the concrete.”
Meehan proposed that the capsule be opened in 2060. Its contents could be half-century-old consumer water and electric bills to reflect the consumption rate of an earlier time, he said.
St. Romaine said the project will be accomplished through a series of bond issues without raising taxes. It includes a new five-story section covering 73,000 square feet, and the renovation of the existing City Hall, creating a total floorspace of more than 128,000 square feet. The cost of the whole project comprising the addition and the renovation phases is estimated at $21.3 million.
“The first phase of the three-phase project is nearing completion very rapidly,” St. Romaine said, referring to lobby renovations and new offices for Utility Customer Services in the existing building.
“The next two phases — the addition and the renovation of the existing building — will be going out to bid in around January or February 2008 for both phases of the project,” he said, adding that work on the second phase of the project will begin around May 2008.
Built in 1917, the Daniel Boone Building was originally a hotel and tavern that was a popular location for social and business networking. The Rotary Club of Columbia was founded there and its members met weekly at the historic site from 1922 to 1975. A city report on the project also states that the Daniel Boone Building will be renovated for modern use while “maintaining important architectural features.”
Once completed, the project will enable the City to consolidate its operations, thus providing greater efficiency of services and improved internal and external communications, officials say. City employees will then no longer need to work in leased office space elsewhere.
The new City Hall complex is also expected to add “life and vitality” to the downtown area, thereby creating new opportunities for economic growth and jobs while also enriching the experience of those visiting the area, the report states.
The City Hall renovation and expansion project is expected to be completed by the end of 2010.