Design firm chosen for wellness center

BVH Architecture of Lincoln to design the Seward facility

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A design firm has been selected for the new Seward Wellness Center.

BVH Architecture will design the facility, according to City Administrator Greg Butcher, who announced the decision at the Dec. 20 city council meeting.

A selection committee consisting of council members Jessica Kolterman, Matt Stryson and Karl Miller, Seward Public School Board representatives and members of Seward Changing the Game, the nonprofit behind the wellness center, interviewed three firms as part of the Request for Qualifications process.

Those firms included RDG Planning and Design of Omaha, Clark and Enersen of Lincoln and BVH Architecture of Lincoln.

“BVH was the ultimate winner of that process,” Butcher said.

In its Statement of Qualifications, BVH Principal-in-Charge Cleve Reeves said the firm has designed 16 similar facilities in the past 12 years, as well as many K-12 schools and university athletic centers.

The council authorized city officials to negotiate a contract with BVH, which Butcher said was expected on Jan. 3, along with a discussion of the delivery method for the project.

He said historically, city projects have used a Design-Bid-Build delivery method, where a project is designed by one firm then put out for bids from builders. The two phases don’t overlap, as the design is completed before the builder is brought on board.

Butcher said the city may explore using a Contractor-At-Risk delivery method for the wellness center.

That means a builder, or contractor, is brought on during the design phase and then must deliver the finished project under a guaranteed maximum price. The contractor assumes the risk if the project comes in over budget.

This allows the builder to make suggestions of what will or won’t work and what materials are available, or to find lower-cost alternatives in an effort to keep the project cost low.

Butcher said the city would need to undergo an authorization process to use the Contractor-At-Risk method, and it must make sure that style of delivery does not conflict with grant money it has secured for the project.

Kolterman said the committee already is anticipating supply chain delays in getting equipment – up to 72 weeks in some cases – for the heating and air conditioning system, transformers and other necessary components.

Butcher said discussion will continue on fundraising efforts and staffing the wellness center. A director for the facility may be brought on board in 2023 to assist during the design phase.

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