Board questions city hall materials change

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— Steamboat Springs Planning Commission will ask for more details before it gives its blessing to a plan to change a portion of the exterior building materials on Centennial Hall.

Centennial Hall, which will house the city Planning Department, a new public meeting auditorium and a cafe, was approved in July 1999. The new city building is under construction at the corner of 10th and Oak streets.

Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord told Planning Commission Tuesday afternoon that she recommends changing the material used for 1,400 square feet of the exterior from hand-stained concrete panels to a custom concrete block product called Trendstone.

The pre-cast concrete panels were recommended by architect Nan Anderson and were part of the original approval of the project. But DuBord said the use of the panels, which would have been hand-stained with a light rust color, was predicated on the ability to cast them on site. When she and general contractor Tom Fox determined that no local company could do the casting, DuBord said the panels became cost prohibitive.

"The cost of setting up a precast fabricator and transporting the panels would well exceed the building budget," DuBord said.

Fox told Planning Commission he also felt much better about the long-term durability of the Trendstone blocks and their ability to hold their appearance.

"This is custom made block," Fox said. "We searched everywhere for it it's one of a kind. I never did like the stained concrete. We had no guarantee how it was going to turn out. The whole idea is to blend in with the old power plant."

DuBord said the Trendstone was chosen for its compatibility with the red brick exterior of the historic power plant and Elkins/Carver home on the Centennial site. It has a pebbly appearance, but is buffed to a smooth finish resembling polished granite.

"The Centennial Hall committee explored a variety of materials to replace the panels, while taking into account the original architectural vision for the project," DuBord wrote in a report to planning staff. "Other types of materials that were considered included split-face block, smooth face block, wood and stucco. While some of these materials were substantially less costly, they did not meet the architectural objectives as well as Trendstone."

However, Commissioner Kathi Meyer said architectural renderings supplied by DuBord left her with the impression that the appearance of the building had been changed by the switch in materials.

"I think, visually, these look like two very different buildings," Meyer said.

And Chairwoman Shelley Pastachak said she was concerned the Trendstone would take away from the variety of textures on the building.

"I'm concerned now we're going to have just this horizontal orientation without much variation in texture," Pastachak said.

DuBord agreed to return on May 30 with more accurate renditions of the changes to the appearance of the building.


To reach Tom Ross call 871-4210, or e-mail tomross@amigo.net

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