Community center task force delivers design

Despite dealing with uncertain budget numbers and undefined uses for square footage, members of the Hillview Community Center Project Task Force used their final meeting Nov. 30 to deliver a conceptual design for a rebuilt center.

The 11-member task force collectively selected Concept C1, a 24,500-square-foot building footprint in the general area of the current facilities that includes gabled roofs and greater separation among the structures than the competing Concept C2 option.

With its front facing west toward the Los Altos main library, the preliminary designs show a 25-foot-high roof with a lobby and cafe at the entrance. A walking path connects the center with the library. The architectural style is modeled after the Packard Foundation headquarters on Second Street downtown.

Two of the facility’s larger spaces serve as a senior center and community room, but space also is allocated for teens, arts and crafts, and multipurpose uses.

The Los Altos City Council is scheduled to review the plans at its meeting Tuesday.

The challenge for some task force members at their Nov. 30 meeting was addressing an undefined use of 3,000 square feet of building space. The council last week postponed discussion of a controversial 20-year lease for Children’s Corner preschool to occupy that space. The question remains how that square footage would be used absent Children’s Corner.

The task force had been assuming a project budget of $34.7 million, after the council boosted the total from its original $25 million Sept. 26.

City staff has since come back with a recommendation of a $30 million budget, based on financial forecasts over 10 years. The council, however, has not adopted that recommendation.

Design options

Both conceptual options before the task force were estimated to exceed the budget. The chosen Concept C1, the more expensive of the two, totaled an estimated $37 million, due in large part to the gabled roofs.

Last week’s task force design selection stemmed from a Nov. 7 decision to opt for Concept C, one of three provided by Noll & Tam Architects of Berkeley. The design shows the buildings arranged in a triangle, with an open space courtyard in the center. The architects then created two building design options for the Nov. 30 task force meeting based on the task force’s chosen footprint.

Some task force members decried the process, which they claimed left them wondering whether their input would be accurately represented before the council.

Councilman Jean Mordo, who attended the meeting, said he had discussed with City Manager Chris Jordan the idea of forming an ad hoc group of residents to continue monitoring the project as it moves from the conceptual to the design review process. The task force has been meeting regularly since June.

“Task force members are proud of the work they have done thus far, and some may wish to remain engaged in the process,” stated the staff notes from the Nov. 7 meeting. “Some may want to serve as stewards of the design and continue to listen to the community during the two-year development and construction cycle.”

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