Northeast Collaborative Architects named architect-engineer firm for Police-Fire facilities project

BRATTLEBORO — The Police-Fire Facilities Upgrade Committee voted unanimously to award an architecture and engineering contract to Northeast Collaborative Architects (NCA) for the town's estimated $14.1 million rehabilitation of its police and fire stations.

NCA beat out 11 other candidates to have filed RFPs, and proposed some fees lower than what the town had budgeted for. Project Manager Steve Horton proposed negotiating with the firm to find other ways of lowering costs.

The vote came after the Selectboard approved the committee's recommendation and authorized Town Manager Barbara Sondag and Horton to enter into negotiations with NCA at its June 4 meeting.

NCA, with offices in Connecticut and Rhode Island, also worked on fire and police stations in Keene, N.H. Its website ( lists 100 design awards.

According to a memo from Sondag, the interviewing committee chose NCA based on its knowledge of building police and fire stations, and the organization's presentation.

During the screening process, 12 candidates to have filed proposals were ranked on presentation, history and experience with teamwork, ability to handle challenges, innovative fee structure, public relations, knowledge of trends, communication style, and knowledge of the town and project history.

In previous meetings, town officials and staff said important criteria in the project should be cost control and finding a firm that would work well with the town and public.

According to Horton, the process of preparing bid documents will take eight to nine months, with the project ready for bid by January 2014. Horton said the public would have opportunities to participate in assembling the bid documents.

Every aspect of the project must be designed and documented - down to the color of wall paint, he said.

He estimated that construction could begin in spring 2014.

Horton also said this vetting process was the most thorough he's seen.

On May 30, the committee, Selectboard members, Sondag, and police and fire department representatives met to interview their short list of three candidates: NCA; Dore and Whittier, with offices in Vermont and Massachusetts; and Wiemann Lamphere Architects of Colchester.

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