Board of Supervisors select contractor

BY BEN MARKS | APRIL 30, 2015 5:00 AM

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After three one-hour long interviews, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors chose OPN Architecture as the contractor for the county’s $3.4 million medical examiner and ambulance building.

The Cedar Rapids-based company on Wednesday won over Carlson Design Team and Rohrbach Associates.

The choice to go with OPN was not unanimous, with several supervisors and members of the Space Needs Committee — the committee tasked with whittling down the initial 10 applicants to only three — having various favorites.

“To me it seemed clear that OPN had done a lot of homework in regards to how much space we have, how much money we have to spend, where the floodplain is,” Supervisor Rod Sullivan said.
Supervisor Terrence Neuzil agreed and said while OPN wasn’t his first choice, it was clear it had done much research.

“OPN was actually not my first choice, but after getting comments from our facilities management as well as our ambulance team, they convinced me it was the choice to go with,” Neuzil said.

While several in the committee, including Facilities Manager Eldon Slaughter, agreed OPN was their first choice, assistant planner Josh Busard voiced concern about how OPN’s larger size could affect how dedicated it was to the project and favored Rohrbach.

“I felt [Rohrbach] delivered the best client involvement,” he said. “They’re small enough that this project is important to them but big enough to have experience.”

During the interviews, the supervisors asked the firms about how they would deal with LEED certification, a non-flexible budget, timelines, and the county’s involvement with the project, which Supervisor Janelle Rettig said was vital.

“Are you going to be flexible enough to work with us on what we need, or are you going to listen to us once and just give us the cookie cutter?” she said.

LEED certification was a point discussed heavily in the interviews, with the supervisors interested in continuing the LEED certification trend all their most recent buildings have had.

Dwight Schumm, principal manager for Design Engineers, part of the OPN team, said they view sustainability and LEED certification as something that must be a long-term solution.

“If you can’t sustain the operation of a system because it’s too new, or complicated, then it’s not really sustainable,” Schumm said.

The supervisors also discussed whether the building’s construction would be phased or all at once.
Simply leveling the building, OPN said, would be easier and quicker, but it would require relocation of the services currently in the building, while phasing would allow work to continue but would take longer.

Sullivan said they would look at the cost and time estimates between the two plans once things were more finalized, and make a decision then.

The supervisors hope to award the contract in mid to late December 2015 so they can have the finalized cost in the budget before the budget cycle is up.

If everything stays on course, the estimated time to completion is 10 months to a year, with the building being finished sometime in December 2016.

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