Members of Harford Community College's Board of Trustees Tuesday approved a $103,342 contract with Frederick Ward Associates of Bel Air to design a new building on campus.
The facility will be called the Hickory Center and will cost $2.8 million overall, Rick Johnson, the college's vice president of finance and operations, told board members.
Board member Brad Stover abstained from voting; the Bel Air attorney said after the meeting that he had done "legal work" for "some individuals" at Frederick Ward, "so I just thought it best I abstain from voting."
Johnson noted the project will be funded entirely from "internal sources," and no state or county funds will be needed.
The Hickory Center will include two buildings that make up about 15,000 square feet for the college's computer services center and copy center. It will be built west of Joppa Hall on the north end of campus.
Johnson and Nancy Dysard, director for marketing and public relations, said the Hickory Center will give the college enough space to move the computer services section out of the campus library and the copy center out of the Student Center.
Dysard said after the board's open session that moving those services to a separate building will free up space for "other instructional services."
"This is an important project for us," Johnson told the board.
Frederick Ward was one of six firms which offered bids when the college issued its request for proposals in May, according to an agenda item provided during Tuesday's meeting.
The field was narrowed to three, which submitted their "best and final costs" in July.
Frederick Ward was the lowest, with its bid of $103,342; Studio Jaed of Bear, Del., offered $104,680, and the Morgan Design Group of Westminster offered $131,985, according to the agenda item.
Johnson said college officials "don't always recommend the lowest bidder," however; they also look at "what they're able to bring to the process."
He said the school has "a good track record" with Frederick Ward, which has worked with Harford Community College on other projects.
He noted the Bel Air firm's proximity to the campus, and its familiarity with design issues such as stormwater abatement and mitigation as factors in the decision.
"We looked at it really hard, and we feel like this is the best recommendation for the college," Johnson explained.