The architects’ dreams of gaining approval for the second design phase of the Dolores Park Rehabilitation Project went down the toilet on Monday.
Arts commissioners didn’t like the design of the restrooms slated for the south side of the park, and asked the architects to come back with other suggestions.
“The curves work,” said Commissioner Ron Miguel, referring to the shape of the fences above the building.
“But then you throw a box inside it, that doesn’t work,” he added, referring to the sharp edges of the building itself.
This might be a minor detail to some, but for project architects Susan Aitken and Aditya Advani, it means the entire project could be delayed.
“The design changes have to go into the historic impact review,” said project leader Jake Gilchrist after Monday’s meeting. If the environmental review is slowed down due to changes, it might delay the entire project.
Landscape architects Royston Hanamoto Alley & Abey were planning to start the renovations as early as September and finish by July 2014, with partial closures of the park.
The commissioners showed sympathy for the landscape architects, applauding them for working so closely with the community and responding to concerns expressed by commissioners at the February meeting, when they approved the first phase of design.
“I would imagine that you might be disappointed,” Commissioner Kimberlee Stryker said. “I want you to know that we acknowledge that you have put a lot of work into this. As you know, we have people looking at every blade of grass on this project.”
Those involved in the project are well aware of the level of scrutiny.
The landscape architects held seven community meetings, seven steering committee meetings, and more than 35 subcommittee meetings before going in front of the Arts Commission. Including two presentations for phase 1 and one failed attempt at phase 2, that’s at least 52 meetings.
The proposed restroom building featured a see-through fence that curved outward on each side of the restrooms, and bougainvillea on a flat roof.
In an earlier rendering, the building was better integrated into the hill; Aitken said she raised the ceiling because previously commissioners had mentioned that the lack of natural light could be an issue.
“Let’s put [in] some LED lights,” Commissioner Cass Calder Smith said, laughing.
“The park experience is more important than the bathroom experience,” he added.
Going back and forth on design details, commissioners went down a long list of suggestions.
Skylights could be a solution to add natural light, but architects worried about the possibility of vandalism.
The choice of mixing modern benches and trash cans with more historic ones concerned the commissioners, as did the width of the restroom doors and the designs above them.
Aitken and Advani will go back to the drawing board to integrate the commissioners’ wishes and submit a new presentation within one month.
To view the entire proposal, click here.