After touring several city council chambers May 10, city councilors realized they needed a design that was functional and efficient but also that distinguished the council from the audience in a way which didn’t completely separate them from the audience.
The height and shape of the dais, furnishings for councilors and audience, room shape and acoustics were all factors that councilors examined while touring the Bainbridge, Shoreline, Kenmore and Poulsbo city halls to think of design ideas for Sequim’s new city hall.
Most councilors liked the idea of a council dais that was elevated a slight six inches above the ground, to emphasize “the business end” of the council without creating the impression that the council was looking down on the public, said Councilor Candice Pratt.
Councilor Ted Miller made a note of shape and size, suggesting that the chamber should be somewhere between 16 and 30 feet to help the room feel more open to the public. He also said that a square design, as opposed to rectangular, felt more like the council and public occupied equal space instead of having the public at the end of a rectangular hall.
Councilor Laura Dubois said that she appreciated some of the smaller things, such as a large projection screen behind the council with monitors built into each councilor’s station so each could view presentations along with the audience.
Councilor Genaveve Starr was most impressed with Kenmore’s chamber, which she said was practical and professional without being ostentatious. She agreed that a dais raised six inches was just the right height. “I think it could be intimidating to people to have the council sitting above them so much.”
Touring councilors also discussed furnishings and upholstery of the room that would be versatile, functional and comfortable. Dubois was particularly impressed with a number of small touches such as footrest bars and cubby holes for storing bags and equipment, and Miller liked the idea of sectioned carpet squares that could easily be individually replaced if they became stained.
The counselors’ recommendations will be a part of City Manager Steve Burkett’s request-for-qualifications packet when soliciting firms to design and build the city hall.