Community responds to city’s design competition |

Community responds to city’s design competition

Dylan Riley and Susan Wood
Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Manuela King outlines her firm's ideas for the design of 56 acres where Highway 50 meets Lake Tahoe on Friday at Lake Tahoe Community College. Four companies presented their visions for the area.

The four design teams competing for the opportunity to develop the 56 acre area of South Lake Tahoe under consideration for renovation presented their visions to the community Friday at the Lake Tahoe Community College Library.

The design teams are Design Workshop, EDAW, Foothill Associates and Royston, Hanamoto, Alley and Abbey.

RHAA, the first design team to present its ideas to the community, emphasized that they would continue to collaborate with the community in the development of the project.

The team shared one of their conceptual plans, a community bonfire that would be located in the center of the campground area, sparking concerns of possible fire danger from local citizens, including a suggestion from one man in the audience to “slash and burn there.”

RHAA also showed sketches of a possible boardwalk and balcony type structure for pedestrians, cantilevered upon boulders lining the lakeshore.

Foothill Associates offered the idea of a tower that would be “as tall as it needs to be,” for tourists to view the lake from.

EDAW suggested ecological themed architecture such as a “pinecone shaped building” that got a mixed reaction from the crowd, but also suggested possible alternatives for renaming the area, so that it wouldn’t have to be referred to as the “56 acre” part of the city, a city that only owns 15 acres of the area.

That “ideagram” as EDAW called it, seemed to go over better with the people in the audience than the pinecone shaped building did.

EDAW also stressed reconnecting to the lake in the design process.

That’s precisely what Tyler Cannon, who owns the nearby Sprouts Natural Foods on Harrison Avenue, found so intriguing about presentation.

“I like the access to the lake from the community center and the type of materials they used like the type of lighting,” Cannon said Sunday of EDAW’s concepts involving an aspen-lined greenbelt and low-voltage lighting, respectively.

He believes these concepts are the type of things that will put South Lake Tahoe on the map for visitors to talk about and come here to recreate for.

“Any change is for the better. A few (designs) were vague, but I think the ideas (overall) were terrific,” he said.

Design Workshop also echoed similar spiritual themes that all the design groups seemed to improvise upon, even going so far as to claim to have spoken with Greek deity about the project.

“Zeus said we need to make people connect with each other, connect with nature and connect with light,” according to principal presenter Todd Johnson of Design Workshop.

Johnson later said his team wanted to help the city “create a place for its soul to reside.”

Tahoe’s District 5 Supervisor Norma Santiago was upbeat about the current stage of development.

“The ideas were innovative and implementable, critical to success,” Santiago said. “We’re serious about a 2-year time table to get it on the ground. I’m very jazzed.”

The public presentation of their conceptual plans concluded a 3-day design competition for the teams, bringing a range of professional expertise to explore solutions to renovating the city center.

The competition will result in the selection of a planning and design team to work with the community, the city and county over the next 12 to 18 months to develop plans for improvements for the area.

The conservancy is expected to provide significant funding to hire the winning team. They have already given $500,000 for this stage of the process called a design charette.

“Community support is good, but funding is what will make this work,” said jurist Steve Yonker. “Hopefully, it will all come together.”

Helping it come together would be the passing of Proposition 84 in November, giving the California Tahoe Conservancy, a state agency, the ability to access $36 million more.

JoAnn Conner of the El Dorado Economical Development Commission, was also optimistic. “I think it’s exciting to see the community support,” Conner said.

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