SCHOOL ARCHITECTS CRITICIZED
June 27, 2000 11:00 pm

Architects today were making a cost analysis of recommendations by a citizens committee for a building program.

The analysis was ordered Monday night by the Brookings-Harbor School District board when it realized the citizens committee would accept nothing less.

Architects Richard Bryant and Harriet Cherry and the administration had tried to do something else. They wanted to render an opinion on whether domes or conventional construction would be best, and then establish priorities for what should appear on the November ballot.

The committee members who attended Mondays meeting rejected this course. They said they worked for months establishing priorities, and reminded the architects they had proposed three building programs one using domes and two others using conventional construction. They said all were to be subjected to cost analysis by the architects.

Architects Bryant and Cherry denied this was their instructions. They said they were to first decide the dome vs. conventional question, and later were to shape the building program.

They attempted to have the committee members vote Monday on their priorities. The committee rejected the attempt, dismissing the architects efforts as a dog and pony show. They also said it was redundant because they had established priorities.

Bill Ferry and Larry Anderson, who headed the citizens committee, were clearly concerned about the route the architects were taking. They were so upset, they and building committee members Dr. Marian Boye and Jim Nash, sent a letter to Dr. Paul Prevenas, district superintendent, saying they had lost confidence in the abilities of the architects.

It said, in part, It has become evident to us that the WBGS firm has failed in its task of carefully and throughly investigating the comparative construction costs of the systems identified by the Schools Designed for Learning Committee.

The architects, who favored conventional construction over domes, have had problems since they were retained for not more than $35,000 to study the dome question, make the cost analysis and shape the building program.

Ferry and Anderson and others perceived they were not objective about domes. They were not satisfied the architects had done what they were asked. An objective study of the dome question was one of the requirements.

The architects were told they should find out why the cost estimates by the dome architect and others differed so much with their analysis. Anderson said he was concerned about the attitude shown by Cherry when she telephoned the dome institute for information.

Responding to criticism they had never visited a dome, Bryant told about finding domes in Portland to visit. They were built 17 years ago by a church college. The congregation provided the labor. Bryant said he found the same problems with domes that they encountered during their initial investigation. He said these buildings were well maintained.

Some of the problems: it was difficult to keep the domes clean and free of mold. Theyre scrubbing them with laundry detergent. The domes were continually moving to the point that permanent walls or structures could not be attached to them.

Other common complaints about domes involve the acoustics and drainage.

Teri Larsson, an outspoken opponent of domes, urged everyone to talk to the people who are using the dome schools in other states. She said they are having problems.

In a show of hands, the committee members at the meeting indicated they favored a mixture of regular and dome buildings. The domes would house the bigger buildings, but not classrooms. This was what they had proposed in their main recommendation to the school board.

The school board members indicated they oppose the use of domes. This direction was sought by the architects so they could proceed with the building program.

A later motion by Tom Davis directed that the building committee work with the architects, and be given the information that it felt was needed. Key committee members met with the architects and Davis after the meeting had adjourned. It was then that Ferry and Anderson explained to the architects why they expected a cost analysis. The architects did not say how long it would take them to complete the analysis.

Bryant indicated it could be as long as three weeks.

It wasnt clear if the district will have time to make an August deadline for putting the measure on the November ballot.

Although there has been disagreement on the process involving the architects, there has been agreement on the need to do something about the schools. Al Bernhard, building committee member, said he thought the people under right conditions would approve bonds of as much as $19 million. He said domes would not be palatable to the electorate.

The bonds are proposed to ease overcrowding, and to repair old and worn out buildings.