The trouble with Truscott
September 30, 2002
“Who designed that?” was the lead story of The Aspen Times Weekly on Aug. 24. This was followed in the same issue with. “Does Anybody Care?” by Brent Gardner-Smith
Recent complaints and criticism of the new Truscott Place affordable housing complex have centered on its color and stylistic comparison to the nearby golf clubhouse.
Comments that the complex doesn’t fit in as well as the adjacent golf clubhouse are missing the point. Style should not be the overriding concern.
The housing authority and City Council missed the boat by providing a large chunk of affordable housing but with few climatalogical features which adapt the design to the climate.
I agree with some of the criticism of Truscott Place. The concerns of City Council and others in the housing authority should be not so much with style or “dressing up” the facility, but rather should consider WHY the units have no balconies or exterior extended living spaces.
This employee project focuses on “minimum acceptable facilities ? instead of creating “the best” employee housing for the dollar. Considering the fantastic summer climate in Aspen, outdoor patios and decks should have been used to expand the living areas into a more indoor/outdoor realm.
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During construction I noticed the extensive use of pre-fab trusses for economy of the shed-like roofs ? but this type of framing eliminated vaulted ceilings and the creation of loft spaces in all of those large roof areas.
I do not like the juxtaposition of the concrete block masonry stair/elevator cores with the expansive use of wood siding. These buildings are obviously wood frame and the stark contrast of the masonry really doesn’t fit the character of the complex.
Now, Mayor Klanderud has told me in person that there will be NO REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS FOR FUTURE PROJECTS AT BURLINGAME. “They” have already decided to fast-track Burlingame and “they” have decided whom to hire.
Why bother with design-based qualifications or solicit requests for proposals? “They” already have decided.
So, instead of a request for proposals, commonly called RFP, I suggest we call this RFP II, Request for Perdition.
This is the root of the problem. For over 10 years the housing Authority had decided that “design team” architect/contractor pairings that they have selected is a better way to go than conventional bidding.
Furthermore, architects are not selected independently but rather as a perhaps tacit agreement with the selected contractor. Most cities require design-based qualifications from architects and contractors alike.
Aspen has for a long time limited the playing field of who the considered architects and contractors are, thereby alienating many, many members of the design community.
Again, suddenly we are now justifying NO request for proposals usually required for public work, the new reason being that we are “fast-tracking” the Burlingame projects. The question is to whose benefit? And with what final result?
Sven Erik Alstrom, AIA