Architects bidding clubhouse job responded appropriately

Letter to the editor

November 04, 2011

I am responding to the letter from Jervis Dorton who felt disappointed when he attended the presentation of four potential Columbia Association contractors, all of whom were bidding on the future renovation and/or reconstruction of the Hobbit's Glen clubhouse.

I want to say up front that I respect Jervis' opinion, but his assessment is missing some very key facts. Only last year, the Columbia Association staff presented fait accompli, for board approval, a set of architectural drawings (no materials or interior designs were proposed) that were developed without any resident or stakeholder input. Needless to say, the board was extremely disappointed and insisted that a new process be followed before presenting any further drawings or designs.

A new process was adopted; not only for the clubhouse, but also for all other extensive capital projects, to ensure that planning and design consider the stakeholders' desired outcomes. Jervis states in his letter that the contractors were "noncommittal and vague about the style of architecture they considered appropriate." He is accurate with this observation, but contractors were responding exactly as they should respond given the new stakeholder-involvement process that has been directed by the CA board.

The reason every company was cautious in presenting any potential architectural options is that they have all been told that their designs need to reflect their clients' desired outcomes (to include stakeholder input). All of the contractors said that they had a process in place to obtain the best design for the client by incorporating the stakeholders in the discussion. How appropriate would it have been for the contractors to propose the design or designs without hearing the community's desired outcomes? The board would then be guilty of the offense (no stakeholder input) by choosing a contractor based on those few designs.

Having attended the public meeting that Jervis mentioned and also the four hours of interviews conducted the next day by the CA staff, I want to reassure the community that all four of these contractors were top-notch architects with impressive credentials and a past history of quality designs. Jervis asked each contractor what they visualized in terms of the architecture, and without exception each felt that natural stone and other earthy architecture was appropriate, based on the club's location, but they also made it clear that they would be listening to the desired outcomes before creating any drawings.

I understand that Jervis wishes to maintain the current building, but we need to be open to this process and trust that the stakeholders (all of them) will lead the selected contractor to the best possible design options for the future.

Cynthia Coyle

Harper's Choice

Cynthia Coyle represents her village on the Columbia Association's board of directors.

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