City agrees on HS architects

Designers of original version of Dimond Park school chosen

Posted: Thursday, November 25, 2004

With the Juneau Assembly deciding not to seek proposals for a new high school design team, city officials project the Mendenhall Valley campus will be ready for students in mid-May 2008.

Assembly members voted unanimously Tuesday to waive the usual proposal process and stay with the Dimond Park school's original design team, Minch Ritter Voelckers of Juneau. Requesting proposals for designers would delay the school's opening to late September 2008, according to staff reports.

City staff also estimates that staying with Minch Ritter Voelckers could save the city as much as $2 million.

The city's purchasing code generally calls for the city to request proposals for professional services. But Mayor Bruce Botelho said the analysis, coupled with the staff recommendation, showed there would be a substantial savings in money as well as time by staying with Minch Ritter Voelckers.

"Probably the most important factor goes to the question of whether it's in the best interests of the city," he said.

Botelho said the Alaska

Department of Education considers the Dimond Park high school project to be a continuation of the project that was canceled by voters in May, after the local architects, with the national architectural firm of Fanning/Howey, had designed a 218,000-square-foot school.

In October, voters approved a 166,400-square-foot school.

At Tuesday's meeting, Juneau School District Superintendent Peggy Cowan said the scope of the project had changed. However, the Juneau School Board recommended staying with the original design team, which was already familiar with the project.

City Engineering Director Roger Healy, in his report to the Assembly, estimated that $1.2 million to $2 million would be saved by staying with the original architects. He recommended the non-competitive method of choosing a designer, although he noted that "it is not without potential problems."

A legal challenge to the noncompetitive selection could stall the project and destroy any perceived cost and schedule savings, he wrote.

"With its unique knowledge of the project, (the design team) would again be a strong competitor if the full (request for proposal) process were to be utilized," Healy wrote, noting that a major goal of the redesign effort will be salvaging substantial parts of the design completed for the larger school.

Botelho said a big advantage of keeping the same designers comes from "being able to move ahead immediately." Meetings with staff and discussions of the new design will begin in December, he noted.

City staff projected work to begin on the new conceptual and schematic design on Jan. 24. Completion of the design was targeted for April 22.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at

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