A familiar midcentury piece of the Richland waterfront is about to disappear.
The city of Richland is updating the façade of its aging water treatment plant on Saint Street. The eye-catching blue and yellow panels will be swapped for a modern, neutral-colored exterior that’s more energy efficient.
The city awarded a $400,000 contract to Pasco-based Vincent Brothers LLC on April 6 to replace the façade. Work will begin soon, said Pete Rogalsky, Richland’s public works director.
The vivid blue and yellow panels stood sentry over the Columbia River shoreline since the building was constructed in the early 1960s. Along the way, they garnered a small but loyal following among design fans who appreciated the colorful midcentury flourish.
Michael Houser, the state architectural historian, called out the color-blocked wall as a local gem in January.
The Richland Arts Commission is considering installing public art at the site to celebrate the history, although details have not been released.
Rogalsky said the façade has simply outlived its purpose. At 60 years old, the panels are failing and make no pretense of being energy efficient.
The panels are about an inch and a half thick with no insulation. Joints and other pieces have failed. During a building inspection, one nearly came off in an architect’s hands, he said.
The new exterior will be more efficient and will extend the life of the building where Richland treats water for city consumption, its most important civic function.
The new exterior wall will give the water building a more sedate, though modern, appearance.
The blue and yellow panels won’t disappear entirely.
Rogalsky said the contract with Vincent Brothers includes removing the panels, but the city will salvage samples for the art commission in case it chooses to incorporate them in future art at the site.
The commission discussed the project at its February meeting, but has not met since then because of the coronavirus pandemic and Washington’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order.
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