Don’t get stuck on the design.
That’s the first thing some architects and city leaders say about three preliminary concepts for the downtown block currently occupied by the Columbus Government Center tower and its two wings.
Not one of the three options residents are now asked to review and remark upon is a final product, nor close to it. The public input sought now is not to be a vote on a definitive design; it is only to inform the Mayor’s Commission on a New Government and Judicial Building, which had architects from Hecht-Burdeshaw and 2WR create the conceptual drawings posted online.
What viewers see in those renderings are only “placeholders” for what could be, to give them an idea of the scale, location and usage of the structures depicted. The commission will use to the public input to form a proposal to present to Columbus Council.
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If councilors decide they can afford the price tag, then the real work of piecing the project together will come later, when a design team’s formed to start on the final concept.
For now residents have to consider rough first drafts of three ideas for dealing with the current facility’s lack of adequate space, security and efficiency, as well as other issues.
Those issues are outlined in a 10-minute YouTube video linked to the citizen survey. They include eroding pipes, inadequate elevator service, dangerous conditions for deputies delivering inmates to court, lack of fire protection, poor access for maintenance of electrical, plumbing and other utilities, and insufficient parking.
The video and survey are at www.surveymonkey.com/r/NewGovernmentBuildingOptions.
The commission has not yet set a deadline for input, nor scheduled its next meeting. Mayor Teresa Tomlinson has said she’d like to have a proposal to present to council this month.
The three options are to retain and renovate the current buildings; to demolish all but the tower, renovate it for judicial use only and add a second building for other city offices; to demolish all of the current structures and build a new judicial center and a new city office building.
Each scenario may include a parking deck south of Ninth Street, where the city now has a parking lot.
The three concepts
Here’s a brief synopsis of each option:
- Option One: Renovating the existing buildings is estimated to cost $100,430,602. It means gutting the tower entirely, leaving only the “ribs” or frame, as workers start rebuilding the interior. Because the current tower lacks adequate space, an expansion could be added at the base. Noticeable on the conceptual drawings are additions running up the sides of the tower. Those could be for elevator shafts, expanded stairwells, more ventilation and maintenance access for building upkeep – correcting deficiencies in the current structure.
- Option Two: Renovating and expanding only the tower, demolishing the wings and adding a new city office building is estimated at $105,417,822. Similar to the first option, an expanded base could be added to the tower, with the same vertical additions for elevators, stairwells, ventilation and maintenance. A park-like expanse of green space could be on the block’s northwest corner, at First Avenue and 10th Street.
- Option Three: Demolishing all the existing buildings and constructing a new judicial tower similar to the current one and a new city office building shorter than the adjacent tower is estimated at $115,506,520. In the depiction for this scenario, the judicial tower is on the block’s north side, across 10th Street from the Springer Opera House, and the city office building is nearer the block’s southwest corner, at First Avenue and Ninth Street. The block’s southeast corner shows a park-like expanse of green space.
Having opened in 1971, the Government Center complex is now 46 years old. Longtime residents may have a different opinion of it than younger folks and newcomers, and they may not have the computer skills or online access to take the survey.
They needn’t feel left out, said Aric Jackson with the mayor’s office, who is collecting the public input. They can put their thoughts in a letter and mail it to the mayor’s office at P.O. Box 1340, Columbus, Ga., 31902.
They also can call him, he said.
“Citizens can email me at Jackson.firstname.lastname@example.org or call 706-225-3114, and I will transcribe their comments,” he said. “We encourage everyone to share the survey with family and friends.”
Just don’t take the current renderings too literally. The final proposal’s yet to come.