By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Colfax Village Board, with the approval of the Colfax Public Library Board, has selected Ayres Associates as the architects for building a new library or a new multi-purpose building.
Although the motion approved at a special joint meeting of the Colfax Village Board and the Colfax Public Library Board January 19 referenced Phase I of the project, it is assumed that if Colfax actually builds a new library or a new multi-purpose building to house the library, clerk’s office and the police department, Ayres Associates will design the building.
The Colfax Village Board and the Colfax Public Library Board interviewed three architectural firms January 14 at a joint meeting at the Grapevine Senior Center: Dimension IV Madison Design Group; Ayres Associates; and FEH Associates, Inc.
According to the proposal from Ayres Associates, Phase I will provide a project report that will include preliminary cost estimates, operational cost estimates, a brief analysis of each facility option (such as stand alone library; multi-purpose building; one story and two story); and other observations.
Ayres will present the report to the Colfax Public Library Board and the Colfax Village Board and will also attend a community town hall meeting to present the report and answer questions.
Lisa Ludwig, director of the Colfax Public Library, said she was concerned about the cost of $26,200 for Phase I that was quoted by Dimension IV in the Request for Proposals.
In the RFPs, Ayres Associates listed a cost of $1,800 for Phase I, and FEH Associates listed a cost of $2,960 for Phase I.
Village board and library board members noted that a $23,000 difference represented quite a large gap.
During the interviews of the architectural firms, no one asked Dimension IV why their proposal was so much more expensive than the other two, perhaps because those attending the meeting were concentrating so much on trying to compare the services offered, Ludwig said.
One person at the meeting wondered if the $26,200 quote could have been a typographical error.
Ludwig pointed out that the amount was highlighted in bold in the RFP and said she did not think it was a mistake.
Scott Gunnufson, village president, said he believed that all three architectural firms would be comparable with their services and processes and noted that all three have experience in design and in designing sustainability.
Gunnufson said he was concerned that it would be more difficult to work with members of an architectural firm who had to travel from Madison or Milwaukee to Colfax rather than architects who only had to drive a few miles to get to Colfax.
“I agree. I am one of the people who will need to work with the architect, and can I get someone from from 35 miles away versus Delavan,” Ludwig said.
When working on a library project, Ludwig said she would prefer to be able to talk to the architects in person rather than doing everything by telephone.
“We need to think about proximity,” Ludwig said.
Ayres Associates has offices in Eau Claire and River Falls as well as other locations around Wisconsin and offices in other states.
Above and beyond
John Thompson, director of the Indianhead Federated Library System, also attended the joint meeting of the village board and library board.
“What has been your experience?” Gunnufson asked Thompson.
“The larger the distance, the more the cost,” Thompson said, noting that while architects will quote a base price for the design and project management, other costs, such as copying materials and mileage, will be above and beyond.
“You will have to pay additional lodging and mileage beyond the design work,” said Thompson, who live nears Menomonie in the Town of Red Cedar.
“You have to consider what fits for the community,” Thompson said.
All of the architectural firms have design experience, but “will it work to bring Madison or Twin Cities designs to Colfax?” he asked.
Mark Halpin, village trustee and the village board’s resprsentative on the library board, said he was impressed that the night of the interviews, the gentlemen from FEH were on their way to Barron.
Ludwig noted that the FEH architects “talked like librarians.”
Library board member Lori Halpin said she liked the idea that FEH would include children as stakeholders in their design workshops.
Lynn Niggemann, administrator-clerk-treasurer, said that one of the difficulties for the architectural firm will be obtaining a good cost analysis because the village board and the library board do not yet know what they want.
Phase I will yield a concept design for the exterior and a few concepts for the interior, Thompson said.
The cost for the design phase is typically 10 or 12 percent of the construction cost, he said.
Spending $1,800 for Phase I is a minimal investment, Thompson said.
Ayres Associates already has “skin in the game” because the company has been working on designing street projects for Colfax, Gunnufson said.
Beverly Schauer, village trustee, said Ayres Associates has been working with the village for 25 years on street projects.
The lead architect on the project from Ayres will be Matt Frisbie, and Travis Schroeder will be an architect on the project.
Schroeder is familiar with Colfax and the Colfax Municipal Building because of his work on the energy efficiency project. At that time, he was employed by Cedar Corporation out of Menomonie.
Gunnufson asked for a show of hands from the village board and library board to indicate support for each of three architectural firms: Dimension IV received zero votes; FEH received two votes; Ayres received six votes.
The Colfax Village Board approved Ayres Associates for Phase I of the library/multi-purpose building project on a vote of four “yes,” one “no” and one abstention.
Village President Gunnufson, and Village Trustees Schauer, Carey Davis and Jeremy Klukas voted in favor of the motion.
Village Trustee Mark Halpin voted against the motion.
Village Trustee Annie Schieber said she abstained from voting because she was unable to attend the interviews the week before.
Village Trustee Susan Olson was absent from the meeting.