Dont just call it The Boat by the River, call it The Speedboat by the River.
The Spokane Public Facilities Districts preliminary design for a convention center expansion is much like the racy shape of a speedboat, with the prow angled toward Spokane Falls Boulevard, and the stern jutting back toward the Division Street bridge.
I cant get too married to it, because I dont know if well have the money to build it, says Kevin Twohig, executive director of the district. The districts board will decide that when it determines what structure the district can afford to build, he says.
Twohig describes the planned 80-foot-tall buildings unusual form as a strong shape that would keep the structure from being overshadowed.
The Opera House has a strong shape; the Convention Center has a strong shape; even the DoubleTree Hotel has a shape thats strong, Twohig says. He says the speedboat-like shape of the planned 100,000-square-foot exhibit hall is strong enough for the building to hold its place on the site.
Still, the design is conceptual at this point, and while PFD board members seem to like the shape, its hard to tell whether the prow will be there, because its pretty space that isnt very functional, Twohig says. He says that the prow would give the building an additional lobby that would be useful for functions such as serving as a place where Bloomsday race participants could pick up their packets while exhibitors were using other parts of the building.
Integrus Architecture PS, of Spokane, and LMN Architects, of Seattle, are the architects. Twohig says the architects conceived of the speedboat-like design. I know they were looking for a strong shape, he says. Beyond that, it just kind of evolved out of the mechanics of trying to fit the building onto the site.
The PFD board is scheduled to approve a conceptual design on Nov. 11, after which it will take about six months to complete design development, Twohig says. He says its expected that the construction process will start next August, with construction of the building beginning in the fall. Bouten Construction Co., of Spokane, and Hoffman Construction Co., of Portland, are the contractors.
The PFD board will have about $70 million with which to build the structure, approved by Spokane County voters. Under the preliminary design, the building would stand roughly as tall as the seventh floor of the nearby 15-story DoubleTree Hotel, and the same breezeway that serves the Opera House and Convention Center would serve as the main entrance for the big expansion, Twohig says.
A walkway would lead from the Ag Trade Center, which is attached to the Convention Center near the south bank of the Spokane River, between the DoubleTree and the river to the middle of the north side of The Boat, where it would provide access to a lobby 20 feet above the ground. Windows in the walkway would provide views of the river.
The exhibit hall would be constructed atop two levels of parking, the first of which would be built at grade. The main floor of the exhibit hall would include 100,000 square feet of exhibit space. Loading docks, covered and screened from view, would be situated along the buildings south side, which would run alongside the sweeping wall of the southern end of the Division Street bridge.
The design leaves unaltered traffic lanes that carry westbound vehicles from the bridge to Spokane Falls Boulevard, and would accommodate an extra traffic lane, for which the Washington state Department of Transportation allowed room when it built the bridge.
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