The same two firms were part of the winning team last December when the county was seeking a design-build contract for the 100,000-square-foot office building. They rose to the top again in the second round of bidding after county officials decided to develop the property itself and maintain the building as a public asset.
The county's selection committee reviewed proposals by nine architecture firms and five construction companies. They will invite the top three in both categories to make brief presentations on July 14.
Public Works Director Frank Raymond said each firm should bring its "A game," and bring the team members who were named in the proposal.
"To the greatest extent possible, if they want the job, they had better bring the team," he said.
Project manager Curt Diehl said he found the Schenkel Shultz submission most impressive. "The first thing that struck me was a lot of job-specific knowledge put into the proposal and project approach that really highlights what was going on, and how to marry the existing work with new work to come," he said.
Deputy County Manager Beth Knight said she gave the firm a high score as well. "I like that they've done work here in Osceola County," she said.
HKS has designed corporate headquarters for such diverse companies as Lear automotive designers, RadioShack and Tyler Technologies.
Knight said the county wants a design that makes a strong statement. "There's been a lot of discussion from county manager about making this building unique -- making it attractive to future generations -- not just millennials," she said. "I would be very interested in hearing from them about that from a design standpoint."
"My top-ranked firm was Skanska," Diehl said. "I thought it was a firm that already has a great understanding of what we've done to develop that site, and it puts them in great position to expedite the schedule."
ZHA Vice President Darrel Brostrom also weighed in. His firm has already been selected to serve as "owner's representative" through the duration of the project.
"I felt Skanska's proposal was very strong," he said. "But I happen to know there will be some changes in staffing over there that we'll be learning about very shortly. They've got a couple of people with very light experience on the team."