After innumerable meetings and a painstaking conceptual, drawing and design process, what was once a sketch on a napkin will rise from a vacant city lot.
Come May 2014, if all goes according to plan, the city of Williston’s departments of Planning and Zoning, Building and Engineering will be housed under one roof adjacent to the Public Works facility located on 5th Street East.
The 17,800-square-foot office building, known as the Williston Development Center, will feature a large multipurpose room that will potentially function as a chamber/public meeting space with each department occupying a separate wing in a cross-like plan, said Michael McLean, architect and Williston branch manager of Grand Forks-based JLG Architects.
He credits the city’s Building Committee, which included heads from the three departments, with an inspired concept that fellow architect Jeff Steiner, the designer on the project, brought to life.
“You have this radial plan where you have the three department’s wings branched out from the centralized common space, and then Jeff basically took a napkin sketch they gave us and turned it into a reality,” McLean said, adding that the committee’s input has resulted in a “thoughtful, functional and efficient design with a goal of flexibility for use and future growth.”
Because long-term operational cost is a consideration, designing a building that’s going to last and run efficiently is critical, according to McLean. Features such as double-pane windows; a variable air volume system (HVAC); incorporating vegetation, specifically deciduous trees, that will provide shade in the summer and allow for heat gain in winter; and radiant flooring in the perimeter of the office wings (an option) will maximize the level of comfort and result in a cost-saving, energy-efficient approach.
The exterior design has a transparent look, providing a contemporary open and accessible image of government as well as providing considerable natural light, said McLean.
A colonnade at the front door supports an overhang that will minimize heat gain in the summer and an emphasis on low-maintenance stone and wall tile further exemplifies the value of efficiency in the overall building design.
“We’re going to finally be able to put the three departments that deal with development issues … all in one facility where right now they’re located in three different places in this town. And that’s a real inconvenience to the development community when they come here and they start looking. It’s not just a convenience factor, it’s an efficiency improvement,” said Commissioner Brad Bekkedahl during a city commission meeting July 9, who McLean said has been instrumental during the process.
Ralph Murphy, director of Regional Development/Governmental Affairs for Las Vegas- based Burke Construction Group, Inc., said the building was originally estimated to be about 14,500 square feet.
“It’s grown to 17,800, close to 18,000 — almost a 25 percent increase in size,” he said.
Both Murphy and McLean noted an Aug. 27 date where they will be seeking approval for the final construction pricing for the project, which is currently estimated at $6.2 million for construction costs, and with soft costs the total estimate is $7 million.
Should the project receive the green light, construction would begin in September.
At the July 9 city commission meeting, Bekkedahl explained the financing for the project. The funding source will be a $105 million bond issue the commissioners approved with Minneapolis-based Dougherty & Company LLC, which will be repaid with state grant dollars, state financing of about $60 million in state oil grants that the city will receive over the next two years as well as sales tax money from the city.
“This is going to be part of that improvement package. We’ll be mostly doing roads, streets, sewer and water and other things with that money, but one of the things we’re doing is taking this building construction out of that funding as well,” Bekkedahl said.