The public crowd Kimball gallery for architect pitches
People packed into the Kimball Art Center’s main gallery Thursday to hear five architecture firms present their final pitches to the seven-person jury that will decide which design will be used for the center’s Transformation Project.
The audience consisted of Park City residents, former and present city officials, architecture and design students and journalists from around the country.
The nonprofit organization, which has been providing year-round classes, exhibitions and events since 1976, needs to expand onto the adjacent parking lot, located north of the current structure.
The jury was expected to deliberate Friday and is expected to present its decision to the KAC board of directors next week for ratification.
Kimball Art Center executive director Robin Marrouche said, "We will present the jury’s decision to our board next week and announce the results in mid February."
At this point in the project, Marrouche said the city is lucky to be in the position of choosing any one of the five architects for the project.
"Within this room today, we have an embarrassment of riches and we really would be so blessed with choosing any of the five," she said.
Looking at the crowded room during a short recess, Marrouche said she was happy with the public turnout.
"It’s been an incredible reception," she said. "The kind of crowds that we have attracted, today, speak volumes about the interest of the project in the community. This is what we hoped for and we’re thrilled with the outcome.
"We are now on a national and international profile level," she said. "The Kimball Art Center is fielding calls from all over the place."
Throughout the day, the firms gave 30-minute presentations that described their design philosophies, which touched on functions, forms, materials and sustainability elements.
In addition, the architects highlighted their segments with Park City history lessons, attempting to show how their designs fit in the present Park City aesthetic.
After each proposal, the jury questioned the architects regarding budget, accessibility and practicalities.
The presentations have been informative and most of the designs have potential, said Keith Leclair, a first-year architecture student who attends the University of Utah.
"Some of them need work to fit in with this area," Leclair said. "I don’t think Park City and the locals are looking for something that is a beacon of attraction. While that would be cool at first, I think the feeling would fade quickly.
"I do think some of these designs won’t be respected 100 years from now," he said. "I think if the (new) building is more along the lines of what Park City is about, it will last longer and have more meaning in the community."
Former Park City Mayor Bradley A. Olch said the community has been receptive of the Transformation Project since it was introduced at the beginning of the Kimball Art Festival last August.
"Everyone is super stoked to see and hear what these people have had to say," Olch said during a presentation recess on Thursday. "It’s been great."
Olch said the idea to hold a design competition of this scale was a good one for the community.
"First of all, to have such talented people who put so much time into their efforts and far exceeded what was expected for the competition," he said. "Park City is lucky to have a contest like this and have such renowned, talented people come and want to try to do something here and the results have been phenomenal."
After seeing and hearing a majority of the presentations, Olch said Park City is on the verge of making a decision that would take the town in a different direction.
"During an earlier presentation, we were told that we spend so much time dealing with preservation of a historic district and the past, which, of course is important, but now we have an opportunity, with whatever is chosen here, to set the tone for the future," he said. "I thought that was very enlightening."
The sessions, mediated by Donald J. Stastny of the American Institute of Architects and the American Institute of Certified Planners, began at 8:30 a.m. with Brooks and Scarpa Architects of Los Angeles, Calif., and ended at little after 4 p.m. with Phoenix, Ariz.,- based firm Will Bruder and Partners.
The other firms that previewed their designs were Salt Lake-based Sparano and Mooney, New York’s Tod Williams Billie Tsien and BIG/Bjarke Ingles Group from New York and Copenhagen, Denmark.
The jury includes Marrouche, Park City resident and financial expert Jim Gaddis, Park City Historic District Commission founder Tina Stahlke Lewis, University of Utah design professor Prescott Muir, marketing expert Joanne Shiebler, former director of design for the National Endowment of the Arts Maurice Cox and Park City Municipal Community Affairs Director Phyllis Robinson.
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The planning committee and the newly formed task forces will continue to work on the master planning priorities and will present to the Board of Education at its meeting Dec. 17.