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Town Hall plans dazzle New Canaan Board of Finance

Published 11:56 am, Saturday, June 15, 2013

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  • A view of the skylight and atrium of the proposed Town Hall. Image from KSQ Architects' May 6, 2013 presentation to the Town Hall Building Committee III. Photo: Contributed
    A view of the skylight and atrium of the proposed Town Hall. Image from KSQ Architects' May 6, 2013 presentation to the Town Hall Building Committee III. Photo: Contributed

 

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The new Town Hall figures to be a blend of yesteryear and tomorrow, though with a price tag higher than originally expected, according to plans that were met with support from the Board of Finance Tuesday night.

"I think our team has developed a timeless architecture of institutional permanence," head architect Armand Quadrini, of the firm KSQ Architects, said.

The front of the building will be renovated and restored to look similar to the original design. The architects found golden maple floors beneath the existing ones in the front half of the building and will refurbish them, along with many of the ceilings, moldings and door frames.

The new addition will feature a contemporary design full of glass and light, but with flourishes and references to aspects of the older building as well. Quadrini mentioned the pronounced door frames in the original building as making a statement about doors as important portals between spaces of a building, and will work to maintain that feeling in the addition.

Another aspect is that many of the doors in the plans are made partly or entirely of glass.

"We will include glass doors to promote an idea of transparency in Town Hall and town hall business," Quadrini explained.

A main conflict in the addition has been whether or not to include a two-floor atrium and skylight. Those in favor say the details would do wonders for the building, those against say they would be too expensive. With a skylight, visitors would be able to see Town Hall's cupola from inside the atrium.

"I thought (the plan update) was just remarkable," Board of Finance member Judy Neville said. "Unless it is absolutely prohibitive, I would keep skylight and atrium."

The board's newest member, Jim Kucharczyk, formerly of the Board of Education, agreed with Neville.

"I'd like to start my tenure on the Board of Finance by agreeing with Ms. Neville. The skylights are a very dramatic touch, and I know at the high school, bringing natural light into the bowels of that building had a transformative effect."

Along the same lines, First Selectman Robert Mallozzi, chairman ex-officio of the Board of Finance, said he had been surprised throughout the project that the public has routinely expressed the desire to spend more money for a more desirable building. The town hosted a well-attended meeting seeking public input on March 11.

"It was clear that the public said, `Listen, you have one chance at this,'" Mallozzi said. "It's very different from anything we hear on the Board of Finance."

Quadrini presented no final cost estimate for the design. He said one was in progress and he plans to present it at the upcoming Town Hall Building Committee meeting Monday, June 17. He said he expected the number to be closer to $14 million, rather than the original $12 million that had been budgeted.

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