A new look at the art center's design is warranted | Letter to the Editor
June 12, 2012 · Updated 11:32 AM
I believe Vashon Allied Arts’ proposal to construct a new performing arts center, including what comes across as an uncompromising insistence on the proposed design, has resulted in a false choice: This project in the current design or no performing arts center at all. This is an unfortunate approach that risks the project’s credibility and VAA’s reputation.
Perhaps most troubling is hearing repeatedly that you either support this proposal or you don’t support performing arts on Vashon. I think this attitude has silenced many people and stifled what could be a rich and meaningful public discussion about the project.
An impression has been created that nothing short of scrapping the project would address the concerns that have been expressed. While I am convinced alternatives exist, I’ve been told there is no feasible means of achieving anything close to the project goals if the design is changed; I’ve also been told that technical input from historic preservation experts has been incorporated into the design. I do not find this to be the case and fear some proponents have missed the point of review that involves substantive comment. It is to end up with a better project.
Based on available information, the existing design appears out of touch with its surroundings and historic context. This project has a very real potential for significant adverse impacts that may be avoidable. My hope is this can be corrected through a fresh look at the design, starting with comments from historic preservation professionals and others who appreciate the importance of vernacular architecture and understand the environmental conditions that make this site a challenge. I also hope there will be a more receptive environment for those who have concerns about the design to voice them.
It would be ironic if VAA, the oldest nonprofit arts organization in the state and owner of a historic landmark connected to the proposal, did not embrace a more rigorous design review process and greater sensitivity to historic resources than is evident.
— Laurie Geissinger