When the McLean Community Center was built in 1974, community centers were designed similar to schools, said architect Greg Lukmire, "institutional facilities that could withstand all sorts of abuse."
"As you know," said Lukmire about the current building, "it's blocky, it's pretty solid," he said.
McLean's renovated center, scheduled to be completed by the spring of 2018, promises an entirely "contemporary" new look.
"You want to see what's going on inside, you want to advertise that, you want to draw people in," said Lukmire. "Successful public buildings are open these days."
Lukmire gave a one hour presentation to the McLean community Wednesday, April 15 to showcase design plans and concepts.
Just some of the details:
An open courtyard, natural lighting throughout the building, an open hallway that people enter and allows patrons of the theater in the lobby to see the art gallery on the top floor, and a glassy facade on the back that allows connectivity between the library and the center and a link to the outdoors.
"It's such a beautiful view and nobody sees it," said Lukmire. "We see the community center as a building in a park. It's set in an environment that is natural and quite lovely."
CONSTRUCTION WILL BEGIN in the fall of 2016. The project will cost approximately $8 million, with $6.1 for construction. No money will need to be requested, raised or borrowed, said Ben Drosner, with Fairfax County's Department of Public Works.
"The money is coming from the McLean Community Center's tax district capital reserves," said Drosner.
The renovation will add a total of 7,750 square feet to allow for a 1,500-square-foot fitness room; conference rooms of different shapes and sizes; renovation of the administrative area; added circulation and lobby space; additional restrooms; and bringing the entire building into full compliance with the ADA.
Another public meeting is scheduled for May 12 to give the public an opportunity to view further plans of the design and offer last input before The McLean Community Center submits a proposal to the Department of Planning and Zoning this summer.
The plan is to keep the center open during the renovation. "That's the goal," said Lukmire.
THE ALDEN THEATER, which was expanded with its 100 seat balcony in 1988, and the 2000 Art Studio will not be altered.
Approximately 25 residents attended Wednesday night's meeting at the McLean Community Center, April 15.
Joyce Harris asked that designers do an inventory of the center's trees.
Lukmire has already hired a private arborist to look at trees on the community center's site in terms of health, size and lifespan. "A couple trees will need to come down but we are going to do our best to minimize that," he said. Additional trees will be planted.
"You want to see what's going on inside, you want to advertise that, you want to draw people in."
— Architect Greg Lukmire
One resident asked about solar panels on the roof, and although Lukmire said there couldn't be solar panels above the theater because of the weight of the panels, there is room to explore panels on portions of the roof because the way air conditioning and heating was planned for the building.
John Bellaschi told planners that the proximity to McLean Central Park raises extra concerns about storm water management.
"That's a major concern," said Lukmire, citing the topography challenges and poor grading, current problems with water in the parking lot and side that sometimes leaks into the basement office buildings. "We're going to intercept that water ... and slow it down."
Redesigning the parking lot will allow for 27 additional parking spaces, and that redesign will also be part of the stormwater management solution.
Community Center Renovation: What's Next?
May 12, 2015, 7:30 p.m.: Next public meeting,
McLean Community Center
Summer 2015: Plan submitted to Planning and Zoning
Fall 2016: Bidding for contractors
Late Fall 2016: Construction starts
Spring 2018: Construction scheduled to be completed
Ben Dronsick, Project Manager
Department of Public Works and Environmental Services
One resident was concerned that the open space in the building and higher ceilings could translate to more noise inside the building.
Harris liked the concept of an interior courtyard, that Lukmire says will allow people to go outside on a nice day for art programs and classes for children.
"I personally like it, I think it will set the tone for the facility, I think it will be a focal point," Harris said. "However, I think it's going to require a lot of maintenance because there's nothing worse" than a poorly maintained courtyard, she said.
Lukmire said an urban courtyard concept might be incorporated with benches, sculpture and some landscaping.
Ben Drosner took note of all questions and comments posed by the residents.
"It's quite possible these ideas will be realized," he said.
Come to the May 12 meeting.
"Our goal is to warm the facility, make it feel new and flashy, make it feel that it was worth it," said Lukmire.