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Three finalist firms chosen to design Looff Carrousel building

Aylee Andersen,17, left, hands her brother, Jace Andersen, 8, a ring she grabbed during a ride Monday on  the historic Looff Carrousel. Three firms are finalists to design a new building to house the carousel in Riverfront Park. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Aylee Andersen,17, left, hands her brother, Jace Andersen, 8, a ring she grabbed during a ride Monday on the historic Looff Carrousel. Three firms are finalists to design a new building to house the carousel in Riverfront Park. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Three architectural firms have been chosen to design a new building to house the historic Looff Carrousel in Riverfront Park, work that’s part of the Riverfront Park bond passed by voters last year.

The historic carousel was originally built in 1909 and sat in Natatorium Park until 1967, when the amusement park closed. The building the carousel sits in now was constructed in the early 1970s for Expo ’74. The carousel was moved into the building a year later, in 1975. Now, with Riverfront Park undergoing a massive renovation in coming years, the carousel will once again find a new home, even while it stays downtown.

Beginning in January, the Spokane Park Board will interview representatives from NAC Architecture, Integrus Architecture and Graham Baba Architects, the three finalists. The firms will unveil initial designs for the building on Feb. 17 at an open house for the public.

“The finalist teams will have the great responsibility of creating a building that celebrates a tradition of family entertainment in Spokane while embracing the excitement of the evolution of a modern Riverfront Park,” Leroy Eadie, the parks director, said in a statement. “I’m excited and I know the community will be excited to see the creativity this challenge sparks in each of these highly qualified teams.”

The carousel will be disassembled and packed for storage in the fall of 2016, and construction of the new building is expected to begin in the spring of 2017. The new building, which will also house a visitor center, will cost $4.5 million, according to the Riverfront Park Master Plan.

Spokane’s NAC Architecture was involved in the restoration of Rogers and Lewis and Clark high schools, the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox, the Bing Crosby Theater and the Patsy Clark Mansion in Browne’s Addition. It also designed the sn-w’ey’-mn building at Spokane Falls Community College and the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication building at Washington State University.

Integrus Architecture, a Spokane firm, designed the first expansion of the Spokane Convention Center, as well as the College of Nursing and Health Sciences buildings at WSU Spokane. It also designed embassy compounds in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Algiers, Algeria; and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Graham Baba Architects, from Seattle, designed Wenatchee’s Pybus Public Market, which houses a year-round farmers market in a renovated steel fabrication plant. The firm also designed some of Yakima’s newest spaces, including the Cowiche Canyon Kitchen and Icehouse Bar building, the Washington Fruit and Produce Co. headquarters, and the city’s central plaza, which is in progress. The firm also has created a number of residential buildings in Seattle.

The carousel has more than 300,000 riders each year on its 54 horses, one giraffe, one tiger and two chariot benches, which were carved from wood.


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