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Palm Beach Daily News
The look of the new Palm Beach recreation center is almost complete.
The Architectural Commission voted 4-3 Wednesday to approve the design of the building on a condition that the architect trade the locations of the fitness center and staff offices. Architect Nelo Freijomel was directed to return to the commission next month with an updated plan and examples of materials such as tile, stucco and paint color.
The approval paves the way for the Town Council to review the design and variance requests.
This was Freijomel's fourth time seeking architectural approval for the project at 340 Seaview Ave. The most significant change made since last month's meeting was eliminating an entrance tower on the south side of the building and making the tower at the north entrance more prominent.
"On the Seaview entry tower... we pulled it further north towards the front and extended the breezeway connecting it back to the main entrance," Freijomel said.
Alternate Commissioner John David Corey said the new colonnade "gives you a real sense of arrival."
"I think that space will be a gathering place," he said. "It serves a nice purpose."
Freijomel also added a clock to the north tower. Most commissioners liked it, but one did not.
"It's such a cliche to fall upon a clock for the tower," member Alex Ives said. "I wish there was something else we could come up with."
Freijomel said the clock serves a purpose as it will be visible from the playing field, tennis courts and playground.
Other changes included better screening of the mechanical equipment, slight modifications to window proportions and an improved connection between the after-school room and game room.
Commissioners suggested last month that the fitness center be moved, but it was not in the plan presented Wednesday.
The design has the 1,800-square-foot fitness center on the north side of the building and administrative space on the south side facing the outdoor multipurpose field. Many commissioners said that these should be switched.
Commissioner Michael Small said staff shouldn't get the "prime space."
"We shouldn't give the impression that the center is being built for the self-advertisement of the staff," he said. "This strikes me completely wrong. It's as if a condo manager is telling the building that he wants to occupy the penthouse so he can have a better view of what's going on."
Freijomel said he studied the switch but it "posed several challenges," including the loss of space for machines and storage. But, he said, he would follow the direction to change the floor plan and interior layout.
Commissioners Richard Sammons and Bob Vila asked Freijomel to also work on the center's "presence."
"It has lost its public presence," said Sammons, noting the tower feature is meaningless unless taller. "We've reduced it in size but also in stature. I just wish the building was not as timid as if not to offend anyone."
Vila also suggested Freijomel perhaps raise the tower and make the entrance arch from the parking lot more visible.
"One of the problems that I have with the whole building is that it doesn't call attention to itself," Vila said. "It's not letting itself be shown. It looks like an extension of the school. I want to have something tell me as I'm driving east on Royal Palm (Way) that there's a rec center there that I can go to."
Members Ives, Small and Maisie Grace voted against conditional approval.
Recreation Director Beth Zickar said a positive vote from the council would give "final approval" to the rec center project. She wasn't sure if the project would go before the Town Council in April or May. The town hopes to begin construction this summer.
-- akopf@ pbdailynews.com Twitter: @aleesekopf
A commissioner suggested the architect raise the tower and make the entrance arch from the parking lot more visible.
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