The selection committee for Osceola County's Judge Farm master planning contract had its kick-off meeting Tuesday morning to begin the process of shortlisting the best teams from among eight firms competing to design the 500-acre research park.
Procurement Director Rebecca Jones said the committee, which includes Kissimmee City Manager Mike Steigerwald and Deputy County Manager Beth Knight, will spend the next few weeks reviewing and scoring each proposal. Jones plans to schedule a follow-up meeting for the committee to discuss and rank each package, and decide which companies to invite to make formal presentations in March.
"They have to decide how many they want to bring in," Jones said. "They could invite the top five to make presentations, but it has to be at least three."
Or the committee could rank the eight LOI packages and use those to develop a full-blown RFP. "It's a fluid process," Jones said.
Eight firms competing for the contract to design Osceola County's high-tech research park have offered a glimpse into their vision for the 500-acre Judge Farm in recent responses to the county's request for letters of interest.
Perkins+Will, Austin, Texas The project is broken into four phases. The team will conduct several major workshops in Osceola County to engage stakeholders. These will be organized as open, accessible work sessions to allow stakeholders to drop in and meet with team members at their convenience. Perkins+Will also employs a video interaction process to capture a variety of interactions and archive the planning process.
The draft master plan will be delivered in phase three, while the final phase includes final design guidelines, zoning recommendations, transportation improvements, economic analysis and phasing strategy.
Experience: The teams' portfolio includes master planning for established research parks, such as Huntsville, Alabama's Cummings Research Park and Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, as well as new research parks affiliated with Texas A & M University, University of Texas and the University of Florida.
The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology "Science Town" in Saudi Arabia was designed as a "sustainable, walkable, dense urban community," according to the proposal. "This master plan creates a research hub that integrates science, business and academics into a unified district with housing and amenities."
Team leaders: Stephen Coulston, principal-in-charge; Kevin Bacon, project manager design
In 2011, Coulston was the lead planner for the National Advanced Manufacturing Research and Education Initiative park in McAllen, Texas. The 500-acre mixed-use research park shares many of the goals for the Judge Farm project. The team feels that getting input from researchers and scientists in the beginning of the project is critical, and to attract and retain world-class projects and talent, the research parks of the future must offer an attractive setting to work, linger and collaborate.
RJ WHIDDEN AND ASSOCIATES, Kissimmee, Florida As the only local team, Rj Whidden's strategy focuses on the firm's familiarity with the Judge Farm site and E192 corridor. The project would be completed in six steps, beginning with economic analysis by Fishkind & Associates. The next three steps involve data collection and site survey, identifying opportunities and constraints.
Master plan design would begin in step five. The team proposes to work extensively with County Manager Don Fisher and key stakeholders, but does not propose any public workshops or charettes.
Experience: The firm has prepared multiple developments of regional impact plans in Osceola County, including the mixed-use Edgewater DRI. RJWA also chaired the E192 Enhancement Committee that led to the creation of a community redevelopment district along the corridor, which includes the Judge Farm property. Architecture firm Scott+Cormia has designed mixed-use projects, such as Orlando's Baldwin Park and Grand Central in Tampa. Kimley-Horn, which helped develop the county's Northeast District plan and South Lake Toho Master Plan, would provide planning and transportation expertise.
Team leaders: Robert J. (Bob) Whidden, president; John Adams, entitlement specialist
The team will construct a design paradigm focused on the theme of "connectivity." Team members said the challenge is that the project isn't large enough to stand on its own, so it must be woven into the fabric of the greater neighborhood, including OHP, Valencia College, the government center and residential neighborhoods.
SASAKI, Watertown, Massachusetts The firm proposes a high level of daily and weekly communication between team leaders and county personnel. The team will hold multiple work sessions with the county's master plan committee and will hold focus groups with key stakeholders. The team also will hold workshops for invited and targeted corporations, developers and institutions.
The process is broken into three phases: Goal setting and analysis, alternative vision concepts and recommendations and guidelines.
Experience: Team members helped develop Lake Nona's Medical City master plan and worked on the Innovista Master Plan, which transformed a 500-acre brownfield in downtown Columbia, South Carolina, into a mixed-use district combining residential uses with university research facilities.
Team leaders: Fred Merrill, principal-in-charge; Justin Fay, project manager
According to the proposal, Sasaski's plan will be based on principles of high quality urbanism and place-making with buildings that front on tree-lined streets and boulevards, and spaces for pedestrians, bicycles, and transit integrated into the plan.
As opposed to a suburban office park with building clusters in a sea of parking, the intent of the master plan will be to internalize parking into centrally located garages and promote multi-modal transportation such as bicycles, transit, and a walkable pedestrian scaled street network.
Zyscovich Architects, Miami, Florida The firm, which has an office in Winter Park, has teamed up with experts in research campus design and advanced manufacturing trends. Key meetings will need to include the County, the East U.S. 192 Community Redevelopment Agency, the City of Orlando, the University of Central Florida, the Florida High Tech Corridor Council, the Orlando Economic Development Commission, and surrounding neighborhoods.
The planning process is broken into three phases: Developing the big ideas, developing a plan/defining a sense of place; and making the plan a reality.
Experience: Team members have created master plans for Orlando's Creative Village, Midtown Miami and the University of South Florida. Zyscovich is the master planner for All Aboard Florida and has designed mixed-use projects in Doral and Aventura.
Team leader: Grace Perdomo, project manager
Understanding the needs of industry will be key in the county's ability to lure major high-tech businesses to Judge Farm. The master plan will have to deliver on the promise of creating a unique environment with a sense of place that accelerates the advancement of research and ideas.
According to the proposal, current trends in high technology are moving towards mixed engineering and manufacturing spaces that enable effective communication, which may result in new building massing and forms that strongly contrast with traditional manufacturing building designs with a single floor, high roofs and dock height loading. As advanced manufacturing firms evolve their strategic partnership networks, the ability to accommodate co-location within the same development may become crucial for ensuring the successful development and implementation of the Judge Farms site.