Coral Gables public safety building a fast build
Construction is on schedule for Coral Gables’ new public safety building, but plans for the art installation by the main entrance face months of delay.
Construction on the public safety building continues on time for a debut in August 2020.
“The contractor completed the concrete pour of the second floor slab last week,” Assistant Public Works Director Ernesto Pino said by email. “They are currently working on erecting the columns from the second to the third floor as well as starting the installation of the third floor precast joists.”
The city’s 9-1-1 Call Center, emergency operations center, Fire Station 1, Human Resources Department, IT, Labor Relations Department, police headquarters, police and fire department administrators will be housed at 2151 Salzedo St. Five floors will encompass 120,000 square feet. An adjacent garage will offer 163 parking spots in 70,000 square feet. The total cost rings up to $52.25 million.
Mr. Pino’s team looks to accomplish another milestone this month: “The third floor is scheduled to be poured in mid-May. The structure of the building is expected to continue until the projected completion of mid-September 2019. At that time work will begin on the interior of the building.”
But work on the art installation lags behind schedule. City Historical Resources and Cultural Arts Director Dona Spain told Miami Today in October that the Cultural Development Board would refer its favorite candidate to the City Commission. She hoped to announce the winner by December. But the selection process is continuing.
There’s a simple reason for the delay, said city Arts and Culture Specialist Catherine Cathers: “Sometimes it’s just difficult to coordinate people’s schedule. Sometimes it’s as easy as that – getting a day where everybody can make it.”
The number of finalists in that time span expanded from three to four. The artists propose different ideas to commemorate and memorialize fallen firefighters and police officers.
José Bedia, among the selected artists, proposes using 1-inch solid steel sheets to symbolize the sacrifices and protection offered by both the police and fire departments.
He writes in his proposal, “The representation of their union is symbolized by one large torso, who at the same time is looking in both directions representing their dual functions as guardians. The left side half of the torso is meant to specifically highlight the police department, and this is subliminally suggested by the cut-out image of a human figure pointing towards a direction, alluding to a stance of vigilance or prevention. The right side, half of the torso is meant to specifically honor the fire department. In this case, the human figure, is also in an attitude of vigilance or signaling a potential danger.”
Another candidate, Cherrylion Studios Inc., proposes three columns each with bronze high reliefs of 12 to 15 firemen and police officers supporting their canopy. The studio team plans a different canopy design per column.
The third finalist, Ivan Toth Depeña, pictures 11 sculptural monuments differing in color and inscribed with the names of fallen police officers and firefighters. The floor pattern beneath the sculptural monuments exposes a grid pattern.
Mr. Depeña writes in his proposal, “These pieces symbolize our connection with the universe through a gradated, colored glass plane that connects from the earth, through the viewer, into the surrounding environment and subsequently the sky.” The entire installation self-illuminates through a LED component at night.
The fourth prospect, Robert Lazzarini, uses 12 lockers to symbolize the connection between a firefighter and police officer’s relationship to home and work. Mr. Lazzarini said, “The personal belongings that are locked up before the first responders head into harm’s way are symbolic of the locker protecting the home.”
Mr. Lazzarini weighs how lockers are seen side-by-side and changes how his lockers are presented to best capture the story he is trying to tell. He writes, “Lockers themselves are normally joined side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder. It parallels the idea of the team and unity. The cantilevered compositions are symbolic of the disarray and precarious situations that the first responders head into. It is a controlled chaos that comes together into a single dynamic composition.”
Ms. Cathers says her team received over 100 comments from the public with thoughts on the proposals. “They ranged from everything from a specified preference to thoughtful feedback and remarks as to why they preferred one over the other,” she said. “All of those comments will be going forward to the selection panel and also to the cultural development board and will be included as part of the commission packet.”
But the community doesn’t have a clear favorite, Ms. Cathers said. “It was all over. It exemplifies how it’s not always easy to pick just one.”
The finalist will be working with a budget of $250,000 to produce a work, but the final product is subject to change from the initial proposals.
“Whatever the final design might be, might be a little bit different than what you see in those initial proposals,” Ms. Cathers said. “It is possible that there will be some slight modifications and tweaking once the review panel has had a chance to weigh in it and offer some comments.”
The first meeting of the initial selection review panel convenes May 6. Members of the arts advisory panel, the fire and police chiefs, and one representative from the cultural development board are joining the meeting. They will recommend to the cultural development board who they wish to be the finalist. The cultural development board will then make a recommendation to the city commission, which has the final word.