Finding a plan that'll play in Peoria

August 11, 2010

The second major expansion of the 23-year-old Peoria (Ill.) Civic Center, originally designed by world-renowned architect Philip Johnson, has created a debate over aesthetics. But, as is often the case, economics has determined the immediate outcome.

The issue centers on an unconditioned arcade that joins elements of the facility. The city was hoping to convert this to fully conditioned space, according to David Manica, project manager with Kansas City-based HOK Venue, the architect for the expansion. Another complication was that the arcade, which is beginning to deteriorate, was not constructed as originally designed by Johnson.

Curtain wall consultant J.W. Higgins & Associates projects that the arcade has a remaining life expectancy of 10–20 years, depending on the amount of maintenance it receives.

Manica told the city that it had three basic options, all involving demolition of the existing structure. It could be rebuilt exactly as Johnson had designed it for $12 million, as it was actually constructed for $8 million, or incorporated into a more contemporary design that would be compatible with the expansion for $6 million.

Since all of these options would exceed the project's $55 million budget, HOK is not proceeding with any of them. The city is planning to spend as much as $100,000 to make the arcade structurally sound, and to maintain it.

Manica says that in addition to the departure from Johnson's design, the situation is clouded by the fact that the Civic Center "is not one of Johnson's portfolio buildings." Manica describes the arcade as constructed as "similar to, but different" from Johnson's design. The detailing, sizing, and massing of the present arcade makes it "a completely different animal," he says.

The project, to be completed in 2007, will include a 60,000-sf addition to exhibition space, a 30,000-sf addition to multi-purpose space, and the construction of a new Grand Hall entrance.

Turner Construction Co. will build the addition on a CM-at-risk basis.

         
 

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