Jeff Matthews

Venice Architectural Review Board Member Jeff Matthews examines a roofing tile proposed to be used on the city’s new fire station. It’s made partly out of recycled material and is lighter but stronger than a clay tile, with a longer warranty, board members were told.

VENICE — The Architectural Review Board is OK with tearing down Fire Station 1 but wasn’t quite happy with the design for its replacement Thursday.

The project has to pass through the ARB because the station, adjacent to City Hall, is in the city’s Venetian Theme District, one of two architectural control districts on the island the board oversees.

The ARB issues certificates of compliance to projects that meet architectural and aesthetic standards in the two districts. No certificate, no project.

Demolition of the station was an easy decision. Built in 1958, it has exceeded its design life, architect Todd Sweet told the board.

It’s not built to current code, including wind resistance; it doesn’t meet the department’s needs; it doesn’t conform to ARB standards; and it’s not worth renovating to fix all those things, he said.

The ARB agreed, voting unanimously to approve demolition, planned to begin in June.

The board’s next action might have an impact on that, however: It gave Sweet and his firm a month to make some adjustments to the new station’s design.

Overall, the ARB members like the design. But a combination of the facts that the station will be in use for decades and that, unlike the existing one, it will be physically connected to City Hall subjected it to extra scrutiny.

“We need to be very careful with this,” Board Chair Mark Beebe said. “It’s going to be here a long time.”

Sweet said the design borrows and modernizes some elements of City Hall, which was expanded in the 1980s. That being the case, Board Member Jeff Matthews said, some of the elements of the station’s design should be carried back to City Hall, for continuity.

Also, the design team needs to consider what the composite tile proposed for the roof will look like in 10 years or more, he said. Made in part of recycled material, by then it may not match the tile on the City Hall roof any longer.

Materials in Florida “burn up in a flash,” he said.

There’s a tower on City Hall, Beebe pointed out. Adding one to the station design would reduce its feeling of mass and make a better match of the two buildings.

Board Member Jon Barrie said that the use of grillework to partially screen a colonnade along the east and south sides of the station seemed to him “almost as if you’re hiding the functions of the city.”

Sweet said his team would reconsider the number of openings along the colonnade and also adjust them to match the doors and windows of the building’s conference room, which they surround.

The ARB will consider a revised design Feb. 13.


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