Early this morning, Los Alamos County issued a new Open Forum topic: What do you think the County should do about ADA access to the Fuller Lodge second floor?
The current elevator at Fuller Lodge does not meet ADA standards, cannot accommodate wheelchairs, and is quite small. With the anticipated increase in visitors to Los Alamos due to the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, the County wants to explore options to provide access to the second floor of the Lodge to all visitors.
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On June 10, the Fuller Lodge Historic Districts Advisory Board hosted a presentation on the Fuller Lodge Phase 2-4 and Historical Museum Remodel projects. The meeting was advertised through the Los Alamos Daily Post, Monitor, KRSN and the County’s website.
The purpose of the presentation was to present the 50 percent design and solicit public comment. Approximately 15 members of the public attended the meeting.
The County’s Project Manager provided an overview of the scope of the project, which for the Museum includes:
- replacement of the heating system and the addition of cooling;
- window replacement;
- refurbishment/replacement of logs as necessary;
- refinish the floors;
- remodel the interior and remove some walls;
- upgrade the restroom;
- new electrical service;
- upgraded lighting;
- new entrance and ramp; and
- an outdoor seating/gathering area.
The scope for Fuller Lodge includes: new windows and doors for the wings, stucco repairs and color coat, exterior wood repairs, replacement of the west entrance stonework, replacement and lowering of the east stone patio and flagstone to the historic elevation, and replacement of the existing elevator.
Please note that this presentation was the first formal solicitation of public comment, with the primary purpose to provide an update on the design and gather public feedback.
The architect provided a presentation that walked the meeting attendees through the proposed improvements for both the Historic Museum as well as for Fuller Lodge. The feedback received was primarily focused on the presented concept of an external glass elevator proposed to be located near the kitchen entrance.
Note: the elevator shown was simply a concept presented for discussion. The County practice is to improve accessibility to County facilities whenever the opportunity is presented; typically during renovations.
The current elevator does not meet ADA standards, cannot accommodate wheelchairs, and is quite small. With the anticipated increase in visitors to Los Alamos due to the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, the County wanted to explore options to provide access to the second floor of the Lodge to all visitors.
An external elevator was considered for several reasons: replacing the current elevator in its existing space would require significantly increased scope to accommodate a larger ADA compatible elevator, which would significantly impact the Green Room as well as Room 233 on the second floor.
Historically, the Green Room has been revered as an important historical component of the Lodge. Additionally, there are significant construction issues associated with replacing the existing elevator with a larger elevator in the same location.
In particular, there are structural beams and columns as well as the main fire sprinkler system infrastructure located immediately adjacent to the elevator shaft that would require significant work.
The second floor elevation of the north and south wings does not match the second floor elevations of the main Lodge; placing an elevator in either of these wings would not provide second floor access.
Therefore, the concept of an external elevator was explored, knowing that it would likely be controversial.
As noted above, approximately 15 members of the public attended the meeting, some of which provided written comments that are available for review.
Based on the public feedback received at the meeting, the County has requested that the architect further explore the option of replacing the existing elevator in the same location.
The result of this assessment would identify the demolition and space impacts to the Green Room, Room 233 on the 2nd floor, and other areas of the Lodge adjacent to the current elevator; and, identify the associated structural and infrastructure modifications and costs.
In summary, the options for consideration include:
- An external elevator with further discussion of placement and cladding options;
- An internal elevator in the same location as the existing elevator, acknowledging that additional floor space would be required; or,
- Do not replace the existing elevator, acknowledging that the current elevator is old and will eventually be unusable and there will be no ADA access to the second floors.
The Path Forward
Staff is working with the architect to identify a timeframe in which they can provide the additional information requested. Once received, this information will be presented at a future Fuller Lodge Historic Districts Advisory Board regular meeting, where public comment will be solicited.
This meeting will be advertised in local media and the County’s webpage and Facebook page, and known stakeholders will be invited.
Once the Board has been fully informed and has heard public comment, the Board will be asked to make a recommendation to the County Council. The design options, including the Board’s recommendation as well as the public comment received to date, will be presented to Council with a request for direction regarding which elevator design concept should move forward, if any.
Once Council provides direction, the active solicitation of public comment will end and the architect will move forward to final design, followed by solicitation of construction bids, and award of construction.
This Open Forum will remain open with comments printed and provided to the Fuller Lodge Historic Districts Advisory Board and County Council prior to their respective meetings.
The County project website will be updated as the design progresses.