After hearing detailed presentations from two Little Rock architecture firms, the Little Rock Advertising & Promotions Commission voted 5-2 Tuesday to recommend that its staff negotiate with Polk Stanley Wilcox for the renovation and expansion of Robinson Center and Robinson Center Music Hall in Little Rock.
The project designer will be Reese Rowland, whose downtown Little Rock designs include the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Acxiom Corp. headquarters and Heifer International. Polk Stanley has parterned with Ennead Architects of New York, whose team includes Pine Bluff native Kevin McClurkan.
Mayor Mark Stodola, a member of the commission, said the request-for-qualifications procedure that brought the decision to the final two firms allows the commission to negotiate with the second choice, Witsell Evans Rasco, if no agreement can be reached with Polk Stanley. But, he said, he’s never seen that happen.
Polk Stanley Wilcox’s high-energy presentation included a discussion of remaking the north side of the Robinson Center to take advantage of the view from the replacement for the Broadway Bridge. Both Polk Stanley and WER led the commission in consideration of ways to better incorporate the bridge and the riverfront area just to the north of the 74-year-old performing hall.
City officials announced in June that they wanted to renovate the facility. They were aiming for a tentative completion date of fall 2016 and a preliminary estimate of $64.5 million. Both architecture firms were asked about their experience in helping governmental clients pass bond issues to fund major projects.
City leaders want to restore the exterior of the existing facility and add meeting, conference and service capabilities by building onto the north and west sides of it. The Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau said the renovation will run concurrently with the Arkansas Highway Department’s construction on the Broadway Bridge.