Updated community event center design attracts favorable reviews


PORT ORCHARD – The latest iteration of the South Kitsap Community Events Center design, presented to Port Orchard City Council at a meeting in late September, received rave reviews from council members.

Design representatives from Bremerton-based architectural firm Rice Fergus Miller unveiled the latest design refinements to the board months after their first presentation met mixed reviews. This time, however, board members enthusiastically approved the building’s two-story layout – and were particularly impressed with the multi-purpose center’s exterior elevation.

“It has improved a lot,” said board member Cindy Lucarelli following RFM’s presentation, which was part of a Zoom meeting conducted remotely. “It’s a beautiful building. I can’t even begin to tell you how much improved it is, and I really love this design. I think this is something we can be really proud of.

Lucarelli and other council members were particularly struck by a design element above the main entrance, which now sits at the north end of the building facing Bay Street. The designers have created a striking visual element that allows light to shine through letters cut from the wood above the entrance.

City officials also said they liked the wood panels on the exterior of the building, as well as the expansive outdoor patio, 80% of which is covered with an overhang to protect visitors from the elements. The decking juts out toward the shore of Sinclair Inlet, connecting visitors to the waterfront, the designers said.

Angie Tomisser of RFM told board members that the expanded and covered decking was intentional.

“One of the things we really heard from the public commentary was providing lots of covered outdoor space,” Tomisser said. “We want to be able to use this building all year round.

In the revised design, two staircases – one near the main entrance – lead up to the bridge and its striking view of the water.

Entrance moved to the front of the building

Steve Rice, lead architect for RFM, said that in the latest design concept, the entrance was moved from the front of the building facing Bay Street to the north side in order to attract people from all sides.

A view of the South Kitsap Community Events Center facing the water. (Concept Rice Fergus Miller)

“We are appealing to all directions and we think this is a big improvement,” Rice said. “It also takes the upper floor entrance in the middle of the library space, so it’s easy to separate the library from other areas. ”

The $ 20 million, 24,000 square foot community events center will feature the Port Orchard branch of the Kitsap Regional Library on the lower level. Visitors will enter the building and enter a shared space that includes a staircase leading to the second floor, a public toilet on the ground floor, and an entrance to the library.

In this shared space is a partner office for the building operations manager and a refreshment area – a place where coffee could be available and a space for people to gather and chat. The design change to the entrance, said project manager Lorie Limson Cook, removes any confusion about how to access the library or event space on the second floor. Toilets are now also easily located from the entrance.

A preliminary view of the first floor of the building, which is to house the Port Orchard branch of the Kitsap Regional Library.  (Concept Rice Fergus Miller)

A preliminary view of the first floor of the building, which is to house the Port Orchard branch of the Kitsap Regional Library. (Concept Rice Fergus Miller)

Inside the library are sections for collecting books for adults, teens, and children, and meeting rooms that can accommodate groups of varying sizes. A quiet reading area has also been created for adults. The library’s large windows will not only face the water side of the building, but provide stunning views of Bay Street, Tomisser told council members.

She said the design provides for an active and flexible area that the library will use for children’s activities, speakers or special events.

“It’s a very agile space,” said Tomisser. “The interesting thing about it beyond the views is there’s a really cool opening upstairs above that gives you a visual connection to what’s going on upstairs.”

The design also provided staff with a workspace to the left of the building, including a break room and washroom. On the other side of the building is a service entrance next to a parking lot for visitors. This is where installation teams will make deliveries for events and use an internal staircase and elevator to the second floor.

On the water side, three doors open onto a large square. A sliding door near the teenage section will also open into the plaza, the designers said.

The second floor of the building is intended to host community events, meetings and dinners.  (Concept Rice Fergus Miller)

The second floor of the building is intended to host community events, meetings and dinners. (Concept Rice Fergus Miller)

As visitors ascend the staircase to the second level, they will be greeted by three vantage points: one on the water, a second on Bay Street, and a third on the lower space of the library seen from the opening above. The plan has a large space flexible enough to accommodate meetings of various sizes. It can also be used as an overflow space alongside the larger space in the building, which can accommodate up to 150 people in a classroom setup. If an event dinner is planned for the space, it can accommodate up to 120 people. It can be opened or closed using a large retractable wall.

To the far right is a large meeting room that can accommodate 24 round tables; in a classroom configuration, 30 tables can be accommodated, the designers told board members. Smaller meeting rooms also extend along a north-south corridor along the building.

“These rooms are a bit smaller, so the intention here is to give a smaller space for people who come either for a meeting or to the library,” Tomisser said.

The event area on the second floor will be served by a staging kitchen, which will be used by caterers who will bring dishes that can be kept hot or cold, then prepared and served. Designers also have an integrated space called “LITE Lab” which will be mainly used by the library, but can also meet the needs of special events during library off hours.

“The LITE lab represents ‘learning, innovation, technology and exploration’,” said RFM presenter. “We really see this space as a cool coworking-like space where it can be used in a multigenerational way. It can be used for studying and for work or other flexible uses.

An enlarged terrace on the second floor will provide visitors with breathtaking views of Sinclair Inlet.  (Concept Rice Fergus Miller)

An enlarged terrace on the second floor will provide visitors with breathtaking views of Sinclair Inlet. (Concept Rice Fergus Miller)

Rice said the covered deck space at both ends of the building in the original design has now been enclosed on the upper level to provide additional meeting space for the community.

Mayor Rob Putaansuu recalled that designers have so far focused on interior uses and exterior elevation. He said concepts that incorporate landscaping will come later in the process.

“There is really nothing to show there [involving landscaping]”Putaansuu said.” It’s only just started in this area… there is still a ton of work to be done. But I’m really happy, and I hope you are too with the state we are at. are.

The mayor said he expects a more comprehensive design to be presented next year and showcased at a public forum, if COVID-19 wants it.

” I hope we will be able to [present] this in a much more public way with signs on the wall.

Visitors will enter the South Kitsap Community Events Center at the north end of the building.  (Concept Rice Fergus Miller)

Visitors will enter the South Kitsap Community Events Center at the north end of the building. (Concept Rice Fergus Miller)



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