The Mercer Island Design Commission held two public meetings to review plans for construction of the Mercer Island Community Center. The Commission has made a number of comments and suggestions for the architects’ consideration. The City, as project owner, ultimately directed the design team regarding identification and implementation of design solutions/alternatives, costs, and impacts to budget and schedule.
Review of Preliminary Design
A public meeting was held October 22, 2003 at 7:30 p.m. by the Design Commission to receive public input and provide recommendations from the Design Commission on the new Community Center project. The purpose of this public meeting was to examine the relationship of the proposed building to the site, the building and site relationship to the adjoining areas, and landscaping. No formal action, decisions, or approvals were expected or made.
The Design Commission did provide suggestions and recommendations to the architects for possible incorporation into the final design. The Commission considered mass, scale, façade modulation, fenestration, color and texture, pedestrian orientation and vehicular access. Issues subject to SEPA review (traffic, light, glare, air and water quality, other environmental impacts) are considered through the normal SEPA notification process and are not by the Design Commission.
The public was invited to submit written comments to the City. The deadline for submission of written comments was 5pm on October 22, 2003. Citizens were also welcome to testify at the public meeting.
Review of Design Development Plans
On January 13, 2004, the Mercer Island Design Commission held its second public meeting to review the 100% design development drawings for the new two-story, 42,400 square foot multi-purpose facility for the Mercer Island Community Center located at 8236 SE 24th Street. At this meeting, the Commission made a number of comments and suggestions regarding the project concepts, in accordance with Mercer Island City Code Section 19.15.040(H) Design Commission Requirements. All of the commissioners expressed their appreciation for the changes the design team has made in response to previous comments and complimented the overall design concept of the facility. Additional comments and suggestions were:
· Continue the design study of the main entrance area, including window fenestration. The new roof works well, but the other elements of the main entrance need additional work.
· The north elevation, including mechanical equipment location, needs additional design study.
· The Commission expressed support for the design of the roof and asked the design team to increase the number of times the proposed roof expression concept occurs.
· A majority of the Design Commission expressed support for the color, texture and use of the jumbo brick exterior material.
· Consider creating a secondary pedestrian connection to the patio of the senior daycare area.
· Study the expected noise of the mechanical units on the west façade of the gym and consider switching or otherwise adjusting the location of the outdoor storage and mechanical units as necessary to improve the ambiance of this patio area.
· Location and design of the multipurpose room and kitchen are awkward. Consider a more rectangular shape for the kitchen. The Design Commission acknowledged the inherent challenges to designing this area.
· Study ways to add more natural light to the gallery area.
· Improve and enhance the views from the gallery area to the east.
· Examine increasing the number and size of the view openings from the gallery to the gym.
· Re-examine the pedestrian connection point to Luther Burbank Park. A larger landing is needed. Focus on finding the optimum point for this connection. Consider alternatives that break up the stair sections instead of creating a long straight run of stairs.
· Reintroduce the “circle” path and planting area that was located between the parking lot, hill, and the western façade of the gym of the design development drawings. The Commission felt that this feature created a very strong connection between these features on the site.
· The Commission complimented the design team on work that has been done on the landscaping on the southeast portion of the site. The Commission felt that the design created a variable desirable transition between the building and the corner of 84th Ave. SE and SE 24th St.
· Paving and design of landscaping at the entrance needs additional design work. Consider making the arrangement of the planters less formal and perhaps more whimsical to be more consistent with the overall design of the facility.
· Expand the removal of cottonwoods on the site.
· The Commission appreciates the juxtaposition of the parking lot and enhanced hillside landforms in the design. Take advantage of the hill landform created by the need to balance cut and fill on the site. Consider placing a view structure on the hill.
· The Commission appreciates the design team returning to the 2” caliper trees. These larger trees will have more of a positive visual impact, better screen the facility from the surrounding residences, and provide a more aesthetic street appearance.
· The Commission likes how the landscape trees express axis and direction and would like to see this strengthened if possible. The Commission would like to see two additional trees placed in the parking lot landscape islands near the main entrance of the building on the same axis as the trees in the entry plaza to provide a visual gateway for autos and pedestrians.
· The Commission expressed strong support for the bioswale method of water quality treatment and would like to see a naturalistic form that echoes the shape of the ADA pathway into the main entrance. Take advantage of the interpretive and natural landscape design opportunities created by the bioswale.
· Consider using more native plant material and “green” landscaping.
· The Commission felt that the integration of the signage with the entrance design needs additional work.
The Design Commission asked that these comments and suggestions should be considered when developing the construction documents for this proposal. Understanding however, that the City, as project owner, will ultimately direct the design team regarding identification and implementation of design solutions/alternatives, costs, and impacts to budget and schedule.