Hospital commission chooses architects for renovation

Friday, November 24, 2017

When it comes to the renovations at the hospital, the Eureka Springs Hospital Commission is in business.

The commission agreed on Wednesday, Nov. 15, to choose Bates Architects and Johnson Architecture to manage the project. The commission’s other option was Morrison Architecture and Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects. Both architectural groups presented their qualifications and plans for the renovations to the commission on Nov. 13.

Commissioner John House kicked off the discussion, saying he didn’t feel qualified to vote on issue because he missed the presentations. He asked the commissioners to fill him in, and commissioner Barbara Dicks said she had a problem with Morrison Architecture after the way the firm handled the new high school project in 2013.

“I didn’t like their presentation. They showed us all the drawings they did on Passion Play Road and Ramada Inn and out here and not much about what to do today on our hospital,” Dicks said.

On the other hand, Dicks said, Bates Architects flew a drone around the hospital and laid out several different options for the renovations.

“I really think they had done their homework,” Dicks said. “They also talked to the people in the hospital and asked them their problems and what was happening with them, and the other firm didn’t do that.”

Another thing she liked about the proposal, Dicks said, is that Bates Architects will be doing the work and consult with Johnson Architecture to figure out local problems.

“I like that they are doing the work and Tom Johnson is consulting on the lay of the land and the politics and the commissions, whereas Morrison is doing all the work and Polk more or less is going to confer with them,” Dicks said. “I am leaning toward Bates.”

Commissioner Leva Murphey agreed, saying she has nothing personal against Morrison Architecture.

“Both presentations were professionally done,” Murphey said.

She reached out to other people who hired the firms, Murphey said, and found that Bates Architects follow projects from start to finish.

“When it came to the different stages of the project, Bates people were there all the way down the line, even to the point of interceding with the contractors when there was an issue in order to get money back from the contractors because the work was not up to par,” Murphey said. “With the other firm, those kind of things hadn’t happened. Any work that was unsatisfactory hadn’t been addressed with the help of the architects.”

“That was kind of the situation with the high school,” chairman Michael Merry said.

House asked what role the architect is meant to play, and Mayor Butch Berry said the architect supervises projects.

“If something’s not right, as a rule, you go to the architect who then goes to the contractor,” Berry said. “The architect … he’s your representative, because he speaks their language.”

Treasurer Robert Walling said both presentations were good but he especially liked how Bates Architects has handled so many different kinds of projects.

“They have done everything, from a huge hospital 300 beds or more down to, for instance, Cassville, which is a small hospital like ours,” Walling said.

The commission voted, with Dicks, Walling, Murphey and House voting for Bates Architects and Johnson Architecture. Sell voted for Morrison Architecture and Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects.

The commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday, Dec. 11, at the ECHO Clinic community room.

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