Pam Cross: So... just what is a Concept Design

Sunday, January 14, 2024

The sign at Hillwood Park is a statement of concept design.

By Pam Cross

It seems as if every time we turn around we are looking at a Concept Design for a new building, a new car, a new plane, a new park, or the latest expansion of Sound Transit. So what exactly is a Concept Design?

A concept design refers to the early idea or plan that will guide the design of a specific project. It is the very basic structure of what something will look like upon completion. Because it is preliminary, the concept design must be fluid.

Example: Park Concept Design

Once a bond measure passes the voters and the funding is available, the real work begins. The park has to be designed, construction plans need to be drawn up and the actual building of it needs to be opened up to the public for bidding. There are a multitude of steps along the way and each is critical to ensuring the project is successful.

The pictures we see on the City’s website and in the presentation materials are design concepts that reflect the priorities from public feedback regarding the types of park amenities desired, and provide a general idea of how the park improvements may look.

The City of Shoreline website states:
“There will be a public engagement process incorporated in the final design process. What won’t change in the final design are the amenities that are going into each park and the general location of the amenities.”

There is a lot of work that is still to come: design, construct, improve, obtain permits, renovate, acquire, develop, or equip, all necessary appraisals, inspection and testing, demolition, administrative expenses, permitting, mitigation, construction, and so forth. So completion is a long way from a concept design.

If we look at the actual wording of Parks Proposition 1 we see the following: (emphasis is mine)

“The Projects shall include the acquisition of real property as necessary to locate such facilities. The City shall complete the Projects at the time, in the order and in the manner deemed most necessary and advisable by the Council.

"The Council shall determine the exact specifications for the Projects, and the components thereof, as well as the timing, order and manner of completing the components of the Projects. The Council may alter, make substitutions to, and amend such components as it determines are in the best interests of the City and consistent with the general descriptions provided herein.

"If the Council shall determine that it has become impractical to design, construct, improve, obtain permits, renovate, acquire, develop, or equip all or any component of the Projects by reason of changed conditions, incompatible development, costs substantially in excess of the amount of Bond proceeds or tax levies estimated to be available, or acquisition by or dependence on a superior governmental authority, the City shall not be required to provide such component or components.

"If all of the Projects have been constructed or acquired or duly provided for, or found to be impractical, the City may apply remaining proceeds of the Bonds authorized herein (including earnings thereon) or any portion thereof to other park, recreation and open space capital purposes or to the redemption of the Bonds as the Council, in its discretion, shall determine.”

Clearly changes can be made by the City after the proposition has been passed. None of this information was hidden in “the fine print” - it is clearly stated in the proposition.

We have to remember that landscaping takes time to grow and the “finished product” likely won’t look finished for some time.


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