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City Council Defers Vote on $6 Million Contract for Central Library Seismic Retrofit Design Services

Published on Tuesday, January 24, 2023 | 5:53 am

The City Council deferred its vote Monday on the $6. 104 million contract award to Los Angeles-based Gruen Associates for design services for the Central Library seismic retrofit and renovations project. 

The Councilmembers agreed to reschedule the voting to next week after some members requested information about the price proposed by all the firms that expressed interest in participating in the project.

The Department of Public Works failed to provide details about the price proposals, saying it did not take cost into consideration in evaluating the firms.

“We may have had a second best applicant that was really good and we don’t even know if the cost is the same or half the cost,” said Councilmember Steve Madison. 

“It’s not a suspicion of corruption or incompetence but we have to answer to our constituents for this kind of expenditure and we want to make sure we’re on solid ground.” 

On November 1, 2021, the Department of Public Works issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the preparation of the environmental document and architectural and engineering design services for the seismic retrofit, as well as additional services for building systems upgrades and renovations at the library including: installation of a new fire alarm and fire sprinkler system; roof replacement; mechanical, electrical, and plumbing upgrades; Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades; and improvements to the exterior courtyard and parking lot.

Established in 1946, Gruen Associates were chosen among eight proposers based on the evaluation procedures and qualifications-based criteria specified in the RFP.

The qualifications-based evaluation criteria included: project understanding and approach; experience and qualifications of the project team; proposed project schedule; proposed staffing for the project team; and professional references. 

Aside from Gruen, responsive proposers include LA-based Architectural Resources Group, Inc., Culver City-based KFA Architecture, LLP, LA-based Pfeiffer – Perkins Eastman, Pasadena-based Dewberry Architects, Inc., Pasadena-based ONYX Architects, Inc., San Diego-based Richard Yen & Associates and LA-based Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP.

Public Works Director Tony Olmos said that in qualification-based selection, it is not a low-bid process that is followed. He however  assured he will come back with more information to address the inquiry of some council members on the cost proposals at the next meeting.

As per City documents, Gruen is a Minority Business Enterprise with a staff of 75 architects, landscape architects, and planners. With more than 250 awards, Gruen was selected by American Institute of Architects (AIA) California as the Firm Award Recipient in 2015. 

In addition, Gruen’s proposed lead project manager served as president of AIA California in 2020.

“Gruen has extensive experience in the design and construction of library facility retrofits, including historic structures, as well as managing community engagement,” the staff report reads. 

The firm has renovated the Brand Library and Central Library for the City of Glendale.

Designed by Myron Hunt in 1924, the Pasadena Central Library was the first building completed in Pasadena’s historic Civic Center Plan.

Its doors were closed in 2021 due to seismic safety issues. The library will remain closed until a seismic retrofit can be completed on the nearly 100 year-old building.

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