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5 Architect Firms in Oceanside Contest : Field Is Narrowed From 59 in Bid to Design New Civic Center

Times Staff Writer

The City Council Wednesday announced the names of five architectural firms selected to compete in a design contest for Oceanside’s new civic center, a $17-million project that officials hope will become the catalyst for downtown redevelopment.

The finalists, chosen from among 59 firms, are competing for a $10,000 cash prize and a contract to design the civic center, a 130,000-square-foot complex that will house administrative offices, a fire station and a library. The new city hall will go up where the old one sits and expand across a three-block site bordering Hill Street, downtown’s major north-south thoroughfare.

“I think we’ve got a good mix (of architects) here and I’m sure you’ll see some very innovative ideas coming out of these people,” Councilman Ted Marioncelli said. The finalists include several nationally renowned architectural firms, Marioncelli said. None of the designers is based in San Diego, but three of the five are approaching the ambitious project in partnership with a local firm.

The most famous of the contenders is Miami-based Arquitectonica, best known for the tropical flair and evocative geometric forms that characterize its projects. Among the eye-catching creations in Arquitectonica’s portfolio is the 20-story Atlantis condominium building in Miami. The electric-blue structure has a huge, cubic hole gouged out of its center, 12 stories up; a palm tree, red spiral staircase and curved yellow wall are visible in the hole. Joining Arquitectonica on the Oceanside project is Friedson/Robbins & Associates of San Diego.

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Another noted firm vying for the project is Kaplan/McLaughlin/Diaz Architects of San Francisco. The company won national accolades for its renovation of San Francisco’s historic Galaxy Theater and will attack the Oceanside assignment with the help of Keniston & Mosher Architects Inc., a San Diego firm that specializes in energy-conserving designs.

The remaining finalists are Charles Moore, chairman of UCLA’s architectural program, in partnership with the Los Angeles-based Urban Innovations Group and the Danielson Design Group of San Juan Capistrano; Heller & Leake Architects of San Francisco, and the Berkeley-based ELS/Elbasani & Logan Architects, with help from Winn & Cutri Architects of San Diego.

“Obviously, some of these firms have done some really avant-garde stuff,” Marioncelli said. “That’s OK with us. We want them to give us a building that will really make a statement and create an architectural theme downtown.”

The architects must submit their designs and scale models to the city by Jan. 10. Their work will then be placed on display for a week, and public reaction to each designer’s proposal will be solicited and forwarded to an architectural jury.

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The 11-member jury, composed of professional architects, civic leaders and residents, will announce the winning design Jan. 22.


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