What furnishings will a ‘frugal’ $5 million buy for Surrey’s new City Hall?

photo by Audrey McKinnon

photo by Audrey McKinnon

Mayor Dianne Watts said last week the $4.7 million contract for furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E) for the new City Hall is a “frugal” budget for 180,000 square feet.

“We are being very frugal in terms of how these dollars are being spent,” she said during last Monday’s public hearing when council approved the contract for Heritage Office Furnishings.

Watts said that furnishings from the current City Hall would be reused in other Surrey civic buildings, including the City Centre Library, which is part of the grander scheme to improve the City of Surrey.

With tax, the FF&E contract for $4.7 million will account to more than $5 million.

Let’s compare one “frugal” FF&E budget to another

Compare her budget proportionately to mine and Watts’ budget is far from frugal. My husband and I paid roughly $3,000 to furnish, affix and equip our 750 square foot apartment one year-and-a-half ago.

Watts is set to spend about $28 per square foot after tax, while we spent . . . $4 per square foot.

But, I already had some of the furnishings needed for my home and I actually was thrifty; I bought my dining room table from a thrift store and everything else came from Ikea.

It might not be a fair comparison since I’m trying to compare a home to an office space meant to house public hearings, council meetings and city staff who clock in daily to analyze the nuances of the City of Surrey.

“You can’t really compare this contract to any other because of the volume of purchases that are involved here,” said Jo-Ann Anakotta, City of Surrey staff member.

The New City Hall mock-up showed an improvement upon the old City Hall furnishings

City staff tested a mock-up of the three hopefuls for the furniture contract a month ago.

Heritage Furnishings won the contract against Brooks Corning/Haworth and Knoll/The Office Resource.

“It’s totally different than what we have now. The existing furniture right now is nothing as to what’s been proposed for the new City Hall,” said Anakotta.

Anakotta tested additional storage features and dividers that provide a better acoustic insulation.

“Basically it’s more modern furniture, it’s all going to have the same aesthetic look, it’s all going to be probably a little bit more functional than what we have here,” she said.

There was a vision for this design

Kasian Architecture, Interior Design and Planning was awarded the contract as furniture consultant in January. The company was contracted the New City Hall for a total cost of $97 million.

Kasian Architecture’s website said the new City Hall itself “will express a sense of well-rounded life beyond just work and business, embracing family life, recreation and spiritual health; it will provide a seamlessly integrated landscape; as if the building forms were meant to be there with as much legitimacy as the mountains themselves.”

Well, from a design perspective that just sounds like a dreamy $100 million project.

Kasian Architecture illustration of Surrey City Hall. Courtesy of Kasian.

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