City shortens list of center architects

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 13, 1999

A committee studying possible architects for the new downtown convention center has narrowed the list to four firms.

The committee, along with the mayor and board of aldermen, will select an architect on Wednesday.

The committee is comprised of city planner David Preziosi; local architects Johnny Waycaster and Dan Dillard; Ron and Mimi Miller of the Historic Natchez Foundation; city attorney Walter Brown; city tourism management director Walter Tipton; and city engineer David Gardner.

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In making the final selection, Preziosi said the committee will look at each firm’s design ability; ability to work as a team and participate in a charette process; and convention center experience. Each firm has some convention center experience, he said.

“It’s varying degrees,” he said. “Some exclusively, some on teams.”

The firms did not have time to come up with designs for the convention center, which will be located on the block between Canal and Broadway and Main and Franklin streets.

Preziosi said the selection team would base its decision in part on previous work by each of the architects.

The short list, whittled from interviews with 11 firms, includes:

n JH&H of Jackson;

n Larry Albert and Associates of Hattiesburg;

n Perez Ernst Farnet of New Orleans;

n Waggoner and Ball of New Orleans.

Mimi Miller said the selection process is going well so far. “I felt real good about it,” she said. “Everyone was determined to keep to the timetable.”

That timetable puts final approval of the design in late October, with construction beginning in April 2000. According to the timetable, the center will open March 1, 2001.

Mayor Brown said he was pleased the selection committee is still following the timetable.

“It’s been very congenial,” he said. “This is a process where there could have been a lot of disagreement.”

Estimated costs have been about $10 million, which includes a $1 million renovation for the city auditorium. The money will come from tourism tax revenue and most likely a bond issue.