04/24/11 — Architect hiring for library is delayed

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Architect hiring for library is delayed

By Steve Herring
Published in News on April 24, 2011 1:50 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Selection of an architect for a new library here has been halted, at least for the next 30 days, while the county awaits word on local legislation that would allow the use of design/build for the library as well as other county projects.

Design-build is a team approach that includes the architect/engineer and contractor working together on a project from design to construction. The state is using it for construction of some segments of the U.S. 70 Goldsboro Bypass. Other counties have used it, too.

However, it is not currently among the procedures the county can utilize.

The Steele Memorial Library Steering Committee had been poised to recommend an architect for the project only to be told this week that it will have to repeat the request for qualifications process.

The committee decided last week it wanted the job awarded to Ratio Architects of Raleigh, the company that designed the Cameron Village branch of the Wake County Library.

The company was among those that had responded to the county's request for qualifications to craft a design for renovations to the former Belk's department store building on West Main Street.

County Manager Lee Smith's decision to halt the process means a second request for qualifications will be needed, except that this time around it will be for a team of engineer/designer and contractor.

"We have gone through the process and have identified an architect that we are excited about," committee Chairman Lynn Williams said. "To see what they were able to do and transform that space into what it is now is what really sold me.

"I do appreciate the benefit of the design/build concept, and in the long run, I think we will get a good project for Mount Olive. It just means that we will have to go through the process again."

The county has final say-so on who gets the job.

The local bill has passed the state House and has been sent to the Senate, Smith told the county commissioners at their Tuesday meeting.

"I have had people call from outside (the county) who are going to look at Wayne County to see how (design/build) looks as a model for local government," Smith said. "I do believe you will see it commonplace before the sunset in 2014."

Smith said he had put a "slight hold" on the request for a qualifications process for Steele Memorial Library.

"It is not that we are stopping anything, but that I want to look at the opportunity of design/build for that," he said. "Also because if there is a way to have a better quality project at better cost, let's do it.

"They are prepared to bring to us a recommendation on an architect/engineer request for qualifications, but I said, 'Let's hold for 30 days and see if it passes.' If it passes the Senate and we are able to do it, we would like to do the design/build."

Design/build is a team approach to a project, Smith said.

"Right now you hire an architect who comes in," he said. "You tell them what you want and they design the building or the project. They do drawings and all of these things and then you go to a pre-bid conference. You advertise. You get a contractor who is a prime or multi-prime contractor with sub-contractors. You go through that process.

"Design/build does this for you. You do the request for qualifications and you have a team that comes in of a general contractor with all of the people who work with him and an architect and engineer and the owner. They sit at the table and look at what the cost should be. You develop a project that, in my opinion, the money might be the same, but what you do is you avoid the pitfalls. You avoid the change orders."

That is particularly true in renovation projects like the library, Smith said.

"Something on paper and something in concrete are two different things. Sometimes there are conflicts," he said. "You will say this ceiling needs to be at 10 foot. Well, by the way, it needs to be nine foot five because the mechanicals have got to go in there. So that means you have got to change the drawings and move the ceiling.

"So what if you can do that right up front? Well, that tells me that I have saved money. I save time and money because I have avoided the problems."

The county also plans to look at other county projects -- schools, Health Department and Services on Aging -- for design/build, he said.

The estimated $3.5 million library project will transform the former Belk's building into a regional library to serve southern Wayne County. The county purchased the 23,000-square-foot building and parking lot located diagonally across West Main Street for $400,000 from Mount Olive College.

The steering committee has raised slightly more than $315,000 of its $350,000 goal or about 10 percent of the construction cost.

That money will be used to pay for the design phase of the project.

Donations are still welcomed, Mrs. Williams said.

Checks should be made payable to the Wayne County Public Library, and the Steele Memorial Building Project should be indicated on the checks. Checks may be mailed to the Wayne County Public Library, 1001 East Ash St., Goldsboro, NC 27530.