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Choice of Architect Put Off in Bowers Museum Expansion

May 18, 1989|CATHY CURTIS | Times Staff Writer

The choice of an architect and project manager to oversee renovation and expansion of Bowers Museum in Santa Ana has been postponed until June 20 by the city Redevelopment Agency.

Meeting Tuesday night, agency members said they need more time to study the museum's $9.2-million proposal to restore the original 1936 building and to demolish a 1974 addition to make way for a 48,000-square-foot expansion.

The new wing would not be as sprawling as the one proposed 2 years ago in a $1-million design by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates of New York. A museum spokeswoman said Wednesday that by "building up instead of out," more land could be freed for future construction that would yield income for the museum. Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer has chosen not to participate in the new design.

Still on the table is a plan from last spring to involve a private developer in the project. The developer would build an office tower on the museum's city-owned land. The museum would occupy an annex in the tower, and the rest of the building would be rented out to businesses.

This mixed-use building would provide rental income to Bowers--a boon, considering that the city will no longer support the museum after the year 2007. The annual city allotment is $1 million. Museum director Paul Piazza has said the museum's current $1.6-million budget will probably increase to at least $2.5 million by the time city support ends.

If the Redevelopment Agency--which is essentially the Santa Ana City Council wearing a different hat--approves the project in June, construction would begin in summer, 1990, and would take about a year.

The actual construction budget is about $6 million. Other aspects of the project--including consultant fees, demolition work, a new security system, humidity control and the cost of moving the collection to a temporary storage area--account for the extra $3.2 million.

The Bowers has had a checkered history of proposals to enlarge and modernize the building. A 1969 project for turning the museum into an $11-million cultural arts complex was abandoned early in the planning stages. A 1980 plan for a $17-million expansion faltered when support groups bickered and donations were not forthcoming.

Closed to the public since January in anticipation of the renovation, Bowers will move its staff in July to 205 20th St., a house owned by the museum that has been converted to office space. A small exhibit of objects from the museum's collection is on view at the Xerox Centre at 1851 1st St.

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