Council picks wood lookalike for centerpiece


One day short of one year after the Rainforest Arts Center burned down, the Forks City Council on Monday night unanimously selected a final design scheme for the $2.1 million replacement building.


The council selected an exterior finish of concrete shingles that resemble cedar shake, the pick of an overwhelming majority of those who selected from design options at a special meeting last week.


The council also decided on a squared-up “post and lintel” style design for an overhang roof that will cover a patio area in front of the south portion of the 7,000-square-foot building that will cover two lots at the corner of Forks Avenue and Division Street.


The north portion of the building will house a 2,500-square-foot performance area and storage space. The south side includes a lobby entrance and 1,100 to 1,300 square feet of retail space the city will lease out to businesses.


Though many letters to the editor and voices from the public called for a wood exterior to reflect the city’s logging heritage, City Planner and Attorney Rod Fleck said wood would be too expensive to maintain.


A petition with more than 240 signatures called for a wooden building and was presented to the council at its Oct. 14 meeting.


“It would be inappropriate to give the city a building that can’t be paid for or maintain,” Fleck said Monday night.


Forks’ heavy rains — more than 100 inches annually — quickly deteriorate wood, he said.


Fleck noted that the cedar shingles on the exterior of the city’s Transit Center rotted 16 years after they were installed and had to be replaced.


Councilman John Hillcar said he spoke with the former owner of the Olympic Pharmacy building.


“The south side of the building was always the albatross around the neck of the building because of the weather. The rain would come through the seams in the windows,” he said she reported.


The new building will cover two lots after the West Olympic Council of the Arts purchased the corner lot, the pharmacy spot which was last home of the Forks Dazzled by Twilight store, and donated it to the city.


The concrete shingle exterior, part of a “contemporary rustic” design scheme, was selected with 32 of 38 votes in an advisory vote last Wednesday, Oct. 23, at a joint meeting of the Chamber of Commerce and the West End Business and Professionals Association.


The “Contemporary Rustic” option featured brown concrete shingles hung on the sawblade-style facade of the performance portion of the building with a two-tone brick on the facade of the retail space and as trim.


Several still spoke out against the design Monday night.


“It looks like a culvert,” said Laurel Burtness of Bear Creek.


“We’d have other things up there if we’d had a choice,” said Sherill Fouts, longtime director of the Forks Timber Museum. “The only way to know it is shaped like a saw blade is to fly overhead. How often are we going to see it from the air?”


Fleck pointed out the entire interior of the performance hall will be made of wood — the floor, ceiling and walls. He said that will help make warmer acoustics inside the performance space.


Fleck told the audience the building will be built with a wood frame.


He also predicted the city would be able to get local wood for the building through its bid process.


“We can support the local industry by making the building with a wood frame,” Fleck said.


While the bid process will be open to suppliers from anywhere, Fleck figured local suppliers will have a price advantage because of reduced shipping costs.


“You’re not going to truck from long distances wood into Forks,” He said.


Forks received a $2.64 million insurance settlement for the burned arts center, about $500,000 of which has been dedicated for the demolition of the old building and design of the new.


More than a half-million was spent on demolition and design.

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