Converted for the web from RFQ [PDF format]
REQUEST FOR QUALIFICATIONS (RFQ)
PROFESSIONAL SERVICES CONTRACT
FOR THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA
THE PRESIDENT’S HOUSE:
FREEDOM AND SLAVERY IN MAKING A NEW NATION
A PROJECT TO BE LOCATED ADJACENT TO THE CURRENT ENTRANCE OF THE LIBERTY BELL CENTER IN INDEPENDENCE NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA
RFQ Responses Due Thursday, October 27, 2005 at 5:00 PM
Proposed Dedication Date: July 4, 2007
The City of Philadelphia (the "City"), in partnership with the National Park Service ("NPS") and Independence National Historical Park ("INHP"), invites teams interested in providing design, exhibit and installation services in a design-build format, to submit a letter of interest and statement of qualification for consideration regarding:
The President’s House:
Freedom and Slavery in Making a New Nation
A Project in
Independence National Historical Park
This RFQ offers an opportunity to tell a story of national importance in an honest, inspiring, and informative way — through architecture, landscaping, imagery, and interpretive text placed on the threshold of the Liberty Bell Center, home to the symbol of freedom in this country. INHP considers this project to be one of the top interpretive opportunities that the National Park Service has to offer.
From 1790 to 1800, when Philadelphia was our new nation’s capital city, Presidents George Washington and John Adams lived and worked in a mansion — the President’s House – that stood a block north of Independence Hall. In that house, our first two presidents literally invented what it meant to be the Chief Executive of the United States.
The profoundly disturbing documented truth is that in this house, there also lived and worked at least nine enslaved Africans — kept by George Washington (not Adams) — in the same era when the founders of our country were declaring that "all men are created equal." In this house, George Washington signed the notorious Fugitive Slave Act of 1793.
The story of the President’s House is thus one of achievement and infamy — of the birth of a free nation and indefensible slavery existing side-by-side. It is a story of remarkable bravery, highlighted by the escape to freedom by Washington’s chef, Hercules, and his wife’s personal servant, Oney Judge. As a nation, we have a compelling obligation to illuminate the history of this house and its inhabitants in all its fullness. What better place to do this than on the threshold of the Liberty Bell?
Today, there is no President’s House, its last remnants having been demolished in 1951. There is no plan to recreate it through this RFQ. Rather, this RFQ is for the design of a permanent, outdoor commemorative installation to be placed on the footprint of the President’s House (immediately adjacent to the Liberty Bell Center), covering approximately 12,000 square feet. The intent is to offer a stirring experience to visitors that complements and deepens the experience of the Liberty Bell itself.
The proposed installation will become the newest addition to a revitalized Independence National Historical Park, known as our nation’s most historic square mile and an international destination that attracts visitors to Philadelphia from all over the world. More than two million visitors seek out the Liberty Bell each year in its new Liberty Bell Center, which opened October 9, 2003. This landmark project will reach and teach tens of millions of people for generations to come.
In 1997, the National Park Service and Philadelphia community developed a Master Plan for the redesign of the three blocks of Independence National Historical Park incorporating several new buildings: the Liberty Bell Center, the Independence Visitor Center, the Independence Park Institute, and the National Constitution Center.
The Master Plan did not call for any acknowledgement of the President’s House. As noted, nothing remained of the house and in recent years, far less historical value had been placed on it than was deserved. In fact, from 1954 through 2003, a public toilet stood atop the footprint of the main part of the house, with only a bronze commemorative plaque affixed to a wall outside the bathroom and an interpretive wayside nearby. Over the decades, substantial confusion and disagreement arose over the mansion’s location, and it became a neglected part of our history.
As the new buildings and landscape were being designed and constructed, however, new and important information came to light regarding the location of the President’s House: In January, 2002, Ed Lawler, an independent scholar, published a 95-page article in the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography entitled
The President’s House in Philadelphia: The Rediscovery of a Lost Landmark.
Resolving longstanding misperceptions concerning the house, Lawler painstakingly reconstructed the history, precise location, layout, and features of the residence, as well as the uses to which individual rooms were put.
At the article’s conclusion, Lawler also conveyed why it has become so important on an emotional level that the full story of the President’s House be told:
"An extraordinary juxtaposition will be in place when the LBC [Liberty Bell Center] is completed, one which seems to have occurred by accident.... The last thing that a visitor will walk across or pass before entering the Liberty Bell Center will be the slave quarters that George Washington added to the President’s House."
As word spread of Lawler’s work, controversy erupted and advocacy groups began to press the National Park Service to commemorate the President’s House and the long-obscured story of slavery within it, even as construction of the Liberty Bell Center went forward. The key advocates were the Ad Hoc Historians (a coalition of area historians), ATAC (Avenging the Ancestors Coalition), Generations Unlimited, the Independence Hall Association, and the Multicultural Affairs Congress. Their principal unifying theme: the experience of the Liberty Bell could not be complete without a full portrayal of the economic role enslaved and free Africans played in this country’s formation, which has so often been reinforced by project advocate, author, and Curator Charles Blockson of the famed Blockson Collection at Temple University. On the day of the opening of the new Liberty Bell Center, Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street pledged $1.5 million of City funds in support of the commemorative project.
Although the advocates encountered resistance from the National Park Service, they ultimately prevailed and INHP is now a full and enthusiastic partner with the City. Exhibits within the Liberty Bell Center have been redesigned to reflect more fully the paradox of liberty and slavery. Further, both Mary Bomar (immediate past Superintendent of INHP) and current Acting-Superintendent Dennis Reidenbach have committed to commemorate the President’s House and the lives of its enslaved residents. Of particular importance to advocates, that commitment includes marking the footprints of both the President’s House and the Slave Quarters within the President’s House site, so that there will be clearly defined physical places where people can stand and connect viscerally to the past.
In addition, to help guide the project’s development and ensure its ultimate success, the City and INHP have convened a formal Oversight Committee that includes representatives from all of the original advocacy groups mentioned above. The members of the Oversight Committee are as follows:
On September 6, 2005, the final hurdle impeding this project was removed, when U.S. Congressman Chaka Fattah, joined by U.S. Congressman Robert Brady, announced a federal grant of $3.6 million to fund the project. Combined with the City funds pledged by Mayor Street, there are sufficient funds to complete the project. In short, a remarkable consensus has emerged and the stars are in alignment for this vitally important initiative.
Illustrations showing the site appear on the following two pages.
The following groundplan shows the location of most of the President’s House as demonstrated by Lawler. The illustration does not show some of the House’s backbuildings, parts of which are now covered by the front door of the new Liberty Bell Center. Further drawings will be made available as this process moves forward.
The following site context view clarifies the placement of the President’s House within Independence Historical National Park:
The scope of services to be contracted for is the complete design and installation of the project. It is expected that the design team will include a contractor as well as additional consultants as needed. The team will ultimately be responsible for every aspect of the design, documentation, and installation of the project, as well as management of schedule and budget. In anticipation of review and comment by both the Oversight Committee and the public, design services are expected to include the following distinct phases: schematic, design development, and final design. All site preparation, construction and construction administration will be part of the required services from the proposed team. (A fee proposal is not required at this RFQ stage.)
The specific services required would likely include, but will not be limited to:
The maximum available contract budget is $4.5 million. This amount must be inclusive of any and all costs relating to the design and installation of a complete project.
Note: The information provided in this section and in Section V is not necessary to respond to this RFQ, but it may be useful in understanding the project’s background and intent.
This RFQ exists because the City and INHP have concluded that, given the overarching importance of this project, this extraordinary design opportunity should be made widely available. Respondents are encouraged, however, to review the original Conceptual Design for the project that was commissioned by the National Park Service in 2002 and, as required, submitted to Congress in March 2003. Prepared by the Olin Partnership of Philadelphia and Ciulla Design
Associates of New York, the Conceptual Design document is available at nps.gov/inde/NPS/presidentshousedesign.pdf.
Further development of the Conceptual Design did not occur, in part because of funding concerns (since resolved) and in part because of publicly voiced objections made to the process preceding the document’s release. Respondents to this RFQ who are selected for the next phase of this process are encouraged to offer new concepts for the project or may embrace elements of the preliminary design. As indicated, below, however, the final design will have to include certain core elements (only some of which are reflected in the preliminary Conceptual Design) because they reflect a hard-won consensus achieved among the parties involved in this project to date.
It bears emphasis that that the original Conceptual Design, while extraordinary in many respects, was truly preliminary – it contains no final artwork, no specified design materials, and little or no interpretive text. It did not include a demarcated Slave Quarters, which is a requirement going forward. Further, it was influenced by post 9/11 security concerns at INHP that are being handled differently going forward, so some of the design features may no longer be appropriate. These issues will be clarified at the next phase of this process.
To be successful, the final design will have to contain the following elements:
The following resources, listed in chronological order, are available to respondents, although they will require further explanation at the RFP phase of this process.
Interim Interpretive Wayside: Pending completion of this project, the National Park Service will place an interpretive wayside at the site of the President’s House containing a floor plan of the President’s House, illustrations, and text. The text follows:
The President’s House Site 1790-1800
President George Washington called the elegant three story brick mansion that once stood on this spot “the best single house in the city.” Both Presidents Washington (1790-1797) and John Adams (1797-1800) lived and worked in this house, which was rented from financier Robert Morris. Washington’s large household, including enslaved African descendents, contrasted with Adams’ small household. Adams never owned slaves.
The President’s house in the 1790s was a mirror of the young republic, reflecting both the ideals and contradictions of the new nation. The house stood in the shadow of Independence Hall, where the words “All men are created equal” and “We the People” were adopted, but did not apply to all who lived in the new United States of America.
Independence National Historical Park is working with the community to interpret the President’s House Site and to commemorate the enslaved African descendents who lived and toiled there. A permanent exhibit will be created on this open site near the entrance to the Liberty Bell Center.
Records show that Washington and his family slept over the kitchen. His servants, including the enslaved Africans descendents, slept in the former smoke house and throughout the property. Adams left no record of how he used the house. Hercules, Washington’s enslaved cook, presided in the kitchen and was considered one of the best chefs in America. In 1797, Hercules successfully seized his freedom. With the help of Philadelphia’s large free African community, Oney Judge, Martha Washington’s enslaved servant, escaped to freedom from here.
The City of Philadelphia (the "City"), acting through its Capital Program Office ("CPO") and Owner’s Representative (see Section IX.g), invites teams interested in providing design, exhibit and installation services to submit a letter of interest and statement of qualification referencing all team members. The qualifications response must clarify the entire project team that will be proposed for the project. This team would likely include participants with the architectural/engineering design, landscape design, exhibit design, historical, and interpretive skills as well as construction and construction management experience that are anticipated to be required to accomplish the complete project as described in Section III. There will be a later opportunity to allow substitution or additional team components; the purpose of this RFQ, however, is to establish a representative core team (led by a prime consultant) whose submission will be evaluated in regards to the next phase of this process, which is likely to be a Request for Proposal (RFP) process.
The submittals shall include a letter of interest and include at least three similar recent projects with pertinent project data (including references) but no more than ten colored graphics in total. Submittals should also include (but are not limited to) a concise statement of the design team’s vision for the project, and a description of how the team will include the City, INHP, and the public in the design and review process. If available, as an Appendix, Standard 330 forms shall be submitted (for any and/or all of the team members) outlining experience directly related to involvement in projects of this type. You are required to limit your total response to no more than twenty (20) single-sided pages (not including the 330 Forms). Please do not submit any audio-visual or electronic materials, or 3-dimensional presentations as they will not be considered.
Please note that the prime consultant will need to address the standard contractual requirements of the City of Philadelphia. Further information will be available at the next phase of the process.
Submittals will be evaluated principally based on demonstrated previous experience with similar projects and on the design team’s ability to lead the project to a successful conclusion. The Oversight Committee will review the submittals and establish appropriate guidelines for the selection process. On behalf of the City and INHP, the CPO will compile the recommendations of the Oversight Committee and prepare a short-list of teams to whom a request for proposal (RFP) will be issued.
At the current time, the schedule is as follows:
Deadline to submit questions concerning this RFQ: October 12, 2005
See below for instructions on how to submit questions. Questions and answers will be posted at http://www.phila.gov/presidentshouse. All answers will be available no later than October 19.
Deadline for receipt of RFQ responses: Thursday, October 27, 2005 at 5:00 p.m.
Announcement of short-list of finalists to receive RFP and design stipend: November, 2005
Announcement of final selection: February, 2006
Completion of Project: July 2, 2007
The original and twenty (20) copies of all responses to this RFQ must be received by the City of Philadelphia’s Capital Program Office at its office located at 1515 Arch Street, 11th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19102-1677 by 5:00 p.m on Thursday, October 27, 2005. It is the respondent's responsibility to ensure timely delivery and receipt of its response to this RFQ.
Firms may respond to the RFQ individually or as part of a joint venture with other team members, so long as the individual firm or team responding has the capacity to handle all of the elements of this project.
All questions concerning this RFQ must be directed in writing (hard copy, fax, or e-mail) to:
Jim Lowe, Design and Construction Project Manager
Capital Program Office
City of Philadelphia
1515 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102-1677
As noted in Section X, however, it is anticipated that shortlisted teams selected through the RFQ process for the next phase of this process will be provided a stipend to underwrite the preparation of preliminary design materials.
An initial short-list of teams will be selected by the City, with the approval of INHP and advice of the Oversight Committee, using the criteria set forth in this RFQ, with particular emphasis on a thorough assessment of the success of past projects. All submissions will be acknowledged and the shortlisted teams will then be invited to submit proposals in response to an RFP they will receive from the City. Shortlisted teams will be provided a monetary stipend (amount to be determined) to underwrite the preparation of preliminary design materials.
All respondents should understand that, at various stages of the next phases of the process (culminating in a final design product), significant opportunities for public input and comment will be provided, and the Oversight Committee may want to meet one-on-one with applicants. Respondents will be expected to participate fully in such opportunities.
The City reserves the right to enter into discussions with any and all teams. The City also reserves the right to reject any or all responses, and withhold the issuance of the RFP for any reason.