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February 12, 2019
For the renovation of the Cultural Services building

For the renovation of reception spaces and the grand staircase of the Cultural Services building 

Project Specifications 
French Embassy - Fifth Avenue 
Response Deadline: 20 April 2019 

I. Project Background 

The Payne Whitney Mansion, among the most beautiful buildings of the "Gilded Age", was commissioned in 1902 by Oliver Hazard Payne for his nephew Payne Whitney on the occasion of his marriage to Helen Hay. The architect, Stanford White, designed this house in the style of an Italian Renaissance palace. 

The French government acquired the Payne Whitney Mansion in 1952 to install the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States. In 1970, the house was listed as a Landmark building in New York City. The majestic lobby opens onto a grand staircase that leads to a marble reception room followed by a ballroom reminding visitors of the grandeur of another era. Archival photos can be found at the following link: https://collections.mcny.org/CS.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&VBID=24UAYWD89ZWH4...

Renovated towards the end of the 1980s, the staircase and reception rooms no longer fulfills the needs of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, which welcomes more than 30,000 people each year. The event programming, which during high season, takes place in the reception rooms every night of the week, requires renovating the reception spaces.

The current use of the building (office-based activities) does not comply with the certificate of occupancy (residential).

In 2013, when we obtained the building permit for the construction of the Albertine bookstore, the City of New York allowed the issuance of the permit on the condition that we improve the terms of occupation and in particular, the fire regulations that are compulsory to office buildings.

The building permit which we obtained in 2013 is still valid. The work that begun in 2013 is considered a 1st phase of the building standards and the technical renovation work that will start very soon will be considered as a 2nd phase.

In regards to the upgrading process, the most pressing concerns are:

  • The creation of a second fire escape between the 3 rd and the 6th floor (R + 2 to R + 5).
  • The creation of a sprinkling network throughout the entire building
  • Installation of a new SSI system

The work of the 2nd phase will not impact the 2nd floor where the reception halls are located. Nevertheless, the design of the sprinkler system will be needed to bring these spaces up to standard when they are renovated.

From a regulatory point of view, the decorative renovation of the reception areas will be considered as the 3 rd phase of building renovation. This project in which you wish to submit a proposal will consequently have to take into account the installation of a sprinkling system in these spaces. 

II. The Request for Proposals (RFP) 

The purpose of this RFP is to select a group composed of an interior designer and a general contractor for the renovation, decoration, and layout of the reception areas (ballroom, marble room, and grand staircase) of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy which is located at 972 5th Avenue in New York. 

The expected response to this RFP is a presentation of the designer’s general vision including these three principal elements: 

 Renovation of the reception rooms (marble room and ballroom) and the grand staircase; 

 A presentation of proposed furniture and audiovisual installation in the reception areas adapted to the event programming of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy; 

 A presentation of the overall decor that will include a commissioned piece of work from an artist for the ballroom ceiling, in partnership with the Cultural Services of the Embassy; 

The estimated timetable for this operation is as follows: 2 

June 15th, 2019: The selected designer will be announced 

October 15th, 2019: Selected designer to present a proposal based on the project specifications outlined herein. 

January 15th, 2020: Renovations to begin, following the proposal’s approval by the Contracting Authority 

The only component parts of this RFP are the specifications presented herein. 

III. Selection Procedure: 

The candidate must submit a proposal for the renovation, decoration, and the planning of the spaces. Candidates will have to analyze the needs, objectives, constraints, and the requirements of the Contracting Authority. They will also have to take into account the means made available, which may be limiting. Building visits will be organized to help candidates design their project. Archival material will also be made available to candidates. 

The client will be assisted by a Scientific Committee composed of experts including design specialists, heritage curators, representatives of cultural institutions, and a representative of the French government in charge of the work procedures of this building, which it owns. This committee is able to analyze the technical and artistic value of the project. 

Each candidate will have to present his/her project while abiding to the particular formal requirements. The candidate will have to: 

 Write an application letter presenting the project and the chosen aesthetic direction; 

 Create a comprehensive administrative file on the economic situation of its company, its composition, its technical skills, and specify whether it will be part of a consortium of companies or will work with subcontractors. For any group or subcontractor, the candidate will have to specify the same administrative elements for each participant; 

 Create a technical file that will consist of an outline of the project meeting the specifications (feasibility, cost of works, options for technical equipment and furniture, fees) and including a global budget for the project. It will also show the identity of the general construction company, the technical skills, and organization of its operational team, its professional references in the field, as well as a visual presentation of the project. 

After receiving the proposals, the Contracting Authority will bring together the Scientific Committee to study the projects of each of the candidates. A pre-selection will be carried out according to the following criteria: coherence with the spirit of the place, the conformity with the regulations, the technical value and feasibility, the quality of the artistic / decorative elements, the functioning of the design, the overall cost of the project, as well as its compliance with the specifications defined by the Contracting Authority. 

A presentation of the pre-selected projects will be organized in the presence of the Contracting Authority and members of the Scientific Committee so that the candidates can present and defend their project. 3 

It is at the end of these two stages that the Contracting Authority will select the winner who will sign a contract broken down as follows: 

Phase 1: Proposed project is to be presented based on given specifications 

Phase 2: Execution of the work based on the proposal approved by the Contracting Authority (including project file - DOE - and commissioning) 

IV. Financial Terms: 

The price will be global and fixed for each phase. 

Prices are deemed to include all expenses incurred by the company to meet its contractual obligations, including any customs clearance fees, travel expenses, accommodation, supplies, diagnostics, tests and studies, visas, and any related expenses due to the special conditions found in this historic building. 

If the client is not an English-speaker, the assistance of a translator may be required and will be the full responsibility of the client. 

Amendments to the contract will not be accepted without technical and financial justification. 

Advance payment for this project shall not be expected. 

Prices are not revisable, regardless of the duration of the project. 

The market is subject to a VAT exemption granted to diplomatic representations. For providers established in France, the amounts are exempt from VAT pursuant to Article 259A of the General Tax Code. 

V. Administrative Terms: 

Throughout the project, the points of contact are: 

The Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Contracting Authority, 

Mrs. Bénédicte de MONTLAUR - COCAC - benedicte.de-montlaur@diplomatie.gouv.fr 
+1 212 439 1410 

Mr. Yohann CUYNET - Intendant - yohann.cuynet@diplomatie.gouv.fr 
+1 212 439 1442 

Embassy of France in Washington 

Benoit LENNON - Project Manager of the Real Estate and Civil Engineering Regional Department - benoit.lennon@diplomatie.gouv.fr 
+1 202 944 6056 

All questions must be sent to Yohann CUYNET and Benoit LENNON by email no later than 3 days before the response deadline.

The project execution will be overseen by the Contracting Authority, which will handle all approvals. 

The contractor will organize and run bi-weekly meetings with the Contracting Authority, which will in turn keep the Scientific Committee regularly informed. The drafting and dissemination of the minutes of these meetings, as well as the agenda of the next meeting, the current state of work, and the corresponding expenses are the responsibility of the contractor. The frequency of meetings may increase depending on the progress of the project, and at no additional cost to the client. The site meetings may be requested by the Contracting Authority with at least one week's notice. The latter may require the presence of a co-contractor or subcontractor if there is one. 

Throughout the project, the contractor will have to present construction materials and processes that comply with these requirements. The Contracting Authority, liaising with the Scientific Committee, will have a period of 2 weeks, following the presentation of the samples, to approve the choice: in case of refusal, the Contracting Authority must state the reasons for its decision and be able to solicit the provider for additional information or other samples. 

The responsibility for overseeing the reception areas (ballroom and marble room) and the grand staircase during their renovation and the risks arising from it are the sole responsibility of the contractor, who must provide insurance and financial limits for this project. 

VI. Service Details: 

Budget: The total amount of the operation should not exceed $ 400,000. 

The RFP comprises the following elements: 

a) The interior designer's vision and global treatment of the renovation, including the creation of an artistic work for the ballroom ceiling, commissioned by an artist, in partnership with the Cultural Services of the Embassy. 

b) Technical renovation of the ballroom in all its elements, including: 

- Repair of the sliding access doors to the ballroom; 
- Restoration or replacement of the parquet floor; 
- Renovation of walls and heating boxes; 
- Elimination of the electric heating system; 
- Restoration of the interior windows; 
- Installation of blackout curtains; 
- Lighting system for the room; 
- Proposal and installation of technical equipment (sound, lighting, video projection, etc.); 
- Electrical work; 
- The acoustics of the space should allow the holding of conferences, shows, etc. 

c) Total renovation of the marble room in all its elements 

- Restoration of the marble floor;
- Restoration of the 4 wall sconces; 
- Diagnosis and if necessary, restoration of marble columns; 
- Installation of blackout curtains; 
- Restoration of interior windows; 
- Renovation of the ceiling; 
- Lighting of the room; 
- In addition to what has been proposed for the ballroom, proposals for the installation of technical equipment (sound lighting, video projection, etc.); 
- Electrical work; 
- Elimination of the electric heating system; 
- The acoustics of the space should allow the holding of conferences, shows, etc. 

d) Total renovation of the grand staircase, 1st floor (French: ground floor) up to the 3rd floor (2nd floor). 

- Renovation of the walls and steps of the staircase; 
- Replacement or removal of carpet; 
- Lighting; 
- Restoration of the railing; 

e) Proposal of furniture to equip spaces 

- Conference chairs; 
- Adaptable stage; 
- Conference tables; 

f) The overall renovation of these spaces shall include the standards imposed by the "Department of Building" of New York City in accordance with the permits filed in the name of "Jeffrey Berman Architect" on behalf of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in New York. The successful candidate will have to collaborate with this architectural firm during the renovations. The fees of the firm "Jeffrey Berman Architect" will be borne by the Contracting Authority. 

Companies responding to the RFP are expected to offer a service aimed at meeting all the above points. If the contractor considers that an important element could have been omitted from these specifications, he/she is entitled to mention it in the methodological note. Additional options in excess of the $ 400,000 envelope may be proposed if deemed appropriate. 

VII. Documents to be submitted: 

The companies applying for the project must provide the following before 20th April 2019: 

- Methodological note in English and French describing the general vision of the project as well as the actual duration of the work. The note should include similar projects carried out in the last 3 years and explain how these projects are comparable (5 pages max). 

- Management of work operations: The organizations applying for this project will have to specify the identity of the site manager and the construction company. The contractor must also present proposed team intended to take on the work (2 pages) 

- Budget: a budget specifying very precisely the incurred unit costs for each item of expenditure and the name of the craftsmen. 

- A provisional schedule describing the various stages of the construction (1 page format A3 max). 

- A visual presentation of the project. 

VIII. Selection criteria: 

The candidates responding to this RFP will have to justify their capacity, capability, and references by presenting projects of a similar nature involving the contractors that the candidate proposes to hire for this project. The contractor will forward the standard composition of the team that will be working on the site. 

The proposals will be analyzed by the Contracting Authority. A grade will be given to each proposal and the project will be awarded to the candidate with the highest score. The criteria are: 

- Quality of the creative proposal: 40% 
- Competence and references, through similar projects: 20% 
- Price of the full service: 20% 
- Turnaround time: 20% 

The project assignment will be made public by June 15th, 2019; the chosen candidate will be notified by mail and e-mail. Non-successful candidates will be notified when a contract is signed with the candidate with the highest score. 

The Contracting Authority authorizes itself to cancel this project without justification and to consider the project unsuccessful at any time during the procedure. 

IX.  Please note that all items must be sent before April 20th, 2019. An extension can be granted until May 7th 2019. All these elements must be sent in a sealed envelope marked "Request for Proposals Reception Space SCAC - Deadline for receipt, May 7th 2019 at 5pm EST" and by email to:

Cultural Services of the French Embassy 
Att : Bénédicte DE MONTLAUR 
972 Fifth Avenue 
New York, NY 10075 


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X.  Frequently Asked Questions

What type (s) of insurance (s) does the Cultural Services request?
-   The standard assurances for this type of construction site will be accepted.  

Can candidates have access to “le Mobilier national” for the furniture?
-   No, the furniture must be obtainable outside of “le Mobilier national”.

Is the artist chosen by the designer and should his performance be included in the budget?
-   The designer must propose several artists but the final choice will be made in consultation with the Cultural Services and the Scientific Committee. In addition, the work of the artist must be included in the total budget of the operation.

Are there any specific requirements for the artist?
-   No, the proposal style is open.

Should the gilding of windows be kept?
-   This is not an obligation, the proposal is open.

Has an audiovisual consultant already been consulted?
-   No.

Do the Cultural Services have a visual identity to be followed for the project?
-   No, proposal style is open.

Can the diplomatic pouch be used for transporting materials / furniture from France?
-   No.

Do the walls of the Marble Room need to be repainted?
-   This is not an obligation, the proposal is open.

Do the concrete formwork and electric radiators of the Ballroom need to be restored or removed?
-   The radiators do function but are no longer in use and can therefore be disposed of.  The formwork can be removed or restored if essential to the overall project.

Should the candlesticks in the Marble Room be retained?
-   This is not an obligation. They can be restored but if they do not match the overall project they can be removed or replaced.