Osceola staff picks SchenkelShultz to design first NeoCity office building

SchenkelShultz leveraged its prior work and knowledge of the NeoCity project to earn the nod on Monday -- for a second time -- to design the first office building at the campus.

The architecture firm had already spent four months in preliminary design work for the 100,000-square-foot building when Osceola County opted in May to separate and rebid the architecture and Construction Manager At Risk contracts. 

"Based on our knowledge of the site, our team can immediately proceed with design under an expedited schedule without sacrificing the design coordination with the County," Partner J. David Torbert wrote in his introduction.

The four-story Class B+ building will serve as headquarters for BRIDG and imec at the high-tech office park. Those agencies are committed to leasing half of the office space.  

On Monday, the SchenkelShultz team presented a draft modification letter to be filed immediately with the South Florida Water Management District. And the team indicated that if the county approves its initial design concept, they could be ready to start construction within eight weeks of the contract award.

Deputy County Manager Beth Knight said both statements connected with her, and she boosted the firm's score. "I like the fact that they were very cognizant of our need for speed to market with this building," she said.

"I like the fact that they recognize that this is also a huge recruiting tool for us, and I think there's going to be a lot of emphasis," Knight continued. "I was impressed with their thoughts on the flexible space and how they could bring some of the outdoors into the design of the facility. Overall I thought they gave a great presentation."

In their written proposal, the team stressed that the first office building at NeoCity would set the architectural tone for the future development of the 500-acre tech district.

"In order to attract researchers and tenants to Florida’s High-Tech Corridor, the design must be progressive, innovative and offer the high-tech enhancements/amenities needed by firms in the manufacturing, design and technology industries," they wrote. 

The amount of space dedicated for traditional offices is reduced by more than half, allowing more square footage for open offices, collaboration spaces and social/coffee spaces.

A few key design features include a courtyard linking the office building to the Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center next door, a modern and inviting lobby, and an abundance of transparent glass on the ground floor. The fourth floor would feature a "sophisticated and high-tech boardroom" with attached roof terrace, which could be used as a recruiting tool to bring international corporations and future tenants to NeoCity. 

SchenkelShultz earned the highest combined score from the county's selection committee, but their decision was not unanimous. 

"I would much prefer HKS," Public Works Director Frank Raymond said after listening to all three presentations. 

Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum (HOK), which designed the FAMRC on the NeoCity campus, ranked third among the finalists. 

The committee unanimously selected Skanska USA as Construction Manager At Risk. Moss & Associates and Charles Perry Partners were the other two finalists for CMAR.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407)420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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