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Redesigned New Canaan Town Hall plans pass muster with committee

Published 10:34 pm, Monday, February 25, 2013
  • Town Hall architect Armand Quadrini explaining updates to the design plans of the Town Hall renovation project at the Feb. 25 meeting of the Town Hall Building III committee. New Canaan, Conn. Photo: Tyler Woods
    Town Hall architect Armand Quadrini explaining updates to the design plans of the Town Hall renovation project at the Feb. 25 meeting of the Town Hall Building III committee. New Canaan, Conn. Photo: Tyler Woods

 

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After the Town Hall Building Committee reviewed renovation plans two weeks ago that exceeded the budget by $2 million, architect Armand Quadrini returned Monday night with a much more affordable plan.

The two new designs Quadrini presented were also more functional, and contained a modest side entrance, a slimmer skylight, and a red brick exterior that is similar to the original façade of the building, which will remain the focal point.

"We're chasing the idea of an institutional permanence in these schemes," Quadrini said. "We've really changed from the more modern approach we had before."

The previous designs had planned for a near-monumental glass entrance, and about 5,500 more square feet, at around 39,000. Those designs had an estimated cost of $14 million for the planned $12 million project.

The new designs presented were leaner, each coming in at about 35,500 square feet, and closer to the budget, going $400,000 over.

Still, $400,000 represents a 3.3 percent cost overrun. That was not good enough for some members of the committee.

"When it's all said and done, 3 to 4 percent over is not acceptable," said committee member Randy Salvatore, a Stamford-based developer. "I think you need to go in with that mindset. If you don't do it, we're going to have to keep going back in. I think you get that but I just want to reiterate it: We've got to hit this budget."

In a friendly back-and-forth, Quadrini noted that he was on the same page as Salvatore.

"I'm incentivized to come in on budget the first time. I'm not going to get paid any more to redraw it," he said.

"That's what I was getting at," Salvatore responded.

One of the two designs, "Scheme 2," drew unanimous consent from the committee and, in contrast to two weeks ago, was greeted with enthusiasm by New Canaanites in the audience.

"I love it," said First Selectman Rob Mallozzi.

"I think that says New Canaan," said Salvatore.

"It's very much more appealing," said New Canaan Preservation Alliance President Mimi Findlay, from the audience.

The only remaining issue of concern was whether to include a skylight and atrium at all, or whether to simply have a flat roof, which would be less expensive.

"I think it's a much more comfortable feeling building," said Town Council member Penny Young, who supported an atrium for the joy it brings building inhabitants.

"I'm very happy with what I saw," said Selectman Nick Williams from his seat at the back of the audience. "I think a skylight brings sun onto government, with transparency," he concluded, to raucous laughter and comments from his peers.

Committee member Neil Budnick asked Quadrini how much more an atrium would cost.

Salvatore interjected, "Now? Or in 10 years when it leaks?"

KSQ architect and New Canaan resident Leah Cromwell responded that the atrium at St. Mark's lasted 50 years without leaking.

"You had God on your side in that building," Mallozzi responded. "You've got politicians on your side in this one."

A public information and question and answer session about the project's design will take place on March 11.

twoods@bcnnew.com; 203-972-4413; @Woods_NCNews