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City hall design called too modern
[August 11, 2010]

City hall design called too modern

DADE CITY, Aug 11, 2010 (Tampa Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Architects Lisa Wannemacher and Sergio DeSanto pledged to tweak the design for a new city hall and police complex after commissioners and residents complained that it didn't fit the historic feel of downtown Dade City.

"I think they heard the message loud and clear," Commissioner Camille Hernandez said Tuesday after the hourlong workshop with the architects.

Members of the city's historical preservation committee complained that the design was too modern. They questioned the roofline, the expanse of glass in the atrium and the aluminum pergola over the entrance plaza.

"The canopy, to me, does not fit with our downtown," committee member Jean Ward said. "It's just too ultramodern." Commissioner Bill Dennis echoed those concerns. He said he received more phone calls about the city hall design than about fees or taxes.

"Something needs to be done," he said. "When I first saw it, I thought it doesn't belong in downtown Dade City." The entrance would be shaded by a modern pergola with a bronze finish. At night, uplighting would emphasize the shade canopy and create shadow effects. The police station and municipal office building -- the bookends -- would have details added around the windows and roofline to create visual interest. The single-hung windows were inspired by the city's old train depot.

"We have brick details, corbelling details," DeSanto said. "We think that's important, mimicking very old-time, classic brick details that you see in Dade City." Wannemacher said some of the design choices were dictated by budget. A mansard roof, for example, would be cost-prohibitive. However, she was willing to look at features to make the roofline more interesting.

"I'm very pleased with the comments," Wannemacher said. "In general they were very positive, and the things they asked for are very achievable." Wannemacher said she had a specific reason for choosing a glass atrium and entry to the commission chambers. She and DeSanto wanted the chamber to emit a glow at night.

"The other thing with the glass is it can be transparent, translucent or opaque," Wannemacher said. "Government is supposed to be transparent, and the expansive use of glass can give sense of transparency." The St. Petersburg firm was the unanimous choice to design the $4 million building. The contract includes a grant application to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Office. The grant, if approved, would pay for more than half of the project.

Wannemacher said she and DeSanto could redesign the shade structure to make it more palatable in Dade City. "In the end, everyone is going to be happy with the design," she said.

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