The new Eugene City Hall project is well underway to bring our community a new building and public plaza that will provide a welcoming and accessible place for the community, as well as a home for City government.

Mike Penwell, the City of Eugene’s Design and Construction Manager and the City Hall project manager, as well as Jeff Perry, Facilities Management Division Manager, provided an update on the project. The following are notes from the presentation:

  • Project values include stewardship, identity, participation, simplicity and Eugene at 200 years (thinking ahead).
  • The goal is to create a civic heart. They want to create a “great street” to the river. They want to create activity and energy…a “Living Block”. They want it to be sustainable, accessible and welcoming with an endearing quality. They want the building to be outward facing, not inward facing like the old building so that it projects engagement with the the community. They want citizens to feel they have a reason to go to City Hall.
  • City Hall is part of an overarching city vision of creating “Willamette to Willamette” – a connection of Willamette street to the Willamette river. They feel that 8th and High is important to this concept which contributes to a more vibrant downtown and community.
  • The site preparation included a very clean and safe environment (setting new standards in Eugene). 95% of the fill used was recycled from the building and other recycling networks (such as BRING) assisted in recycling site and building materials. Other materials were reclaimed for future use in construction and design.
  • This is a multi-phase project which starts with a 4-story, 30,000 SF building to house the mayor & city council, the functions of the City Manager’s Office, the Council Chamber, and other associated public meeting rooms. Additional buildings and areas are planned for future phases that may include property across the street. Dividing the site in to two half blocks makes good economic sense for many reasons and preserves the option of a possible land trade with Lane County for the “butterfly lot” across Oak St. from the Lane County Courthouse.
  • The next phase may consolidate other city departments in to a second, larger building.
  • The probability of future earthquakes spurred concern and thus, there is a proposal being considered to do a seismic upgrade to the building so that it will not need to be rebuilt after an earthquake, and so the City can continue to deliver needed services in the aftermath of such an event.
  • Phase 1 project cost is currently budgeted at $17.85 million, but additional funding will likely be requested to cover increased energy-efficiency and seismic upgrades.
  • Phase 2 has not been estimated yet pending a solid plan for the rest of the block.
  • A major feature of the new building is a public plaza that connects with the primary public meeting rooms inside the building. This informs the city’s goal to connect and engage with the community. They envision a space where people can “participate in their democracy” and where events and activities can be held. They think this will alleviate some of the pressure on Kesey square. Plus, with Whole Foods next door, people can eat lunch at the plaza. There may be a water feature and public art will be incorporated into the design of the plaza. All of this lends to the premise that City Hall will be a place where citizens can “Meet, Eat, Play, and See”. Because it is a more active space with high traffic, they do not envision that the problems that plague Kesey Square will be as prevalent.
  • The ground floor of City Hall includes the council chamber, council work session room, council member work spaces, large public lobby, and a dedicated meeting room for councilors to meet with constituents.
  • The mezzanine will include additional meeting space and the offices of Human Rights and Neighborhood Involvement.
  • The third floor is for the mayor and city manager, as well as all remaining functions of the City Manager’s Office. The plan includes open office space that looks over the plaza, reinforcing the symbolic connection between City services and the community.
  • The fourth floor is not currently funded to be finished.
  • There is an energy use path to net zero which is a HUGE difference from the “off the charts” poor energy performance of the old city hall. That idea stems from reducing the amount of energy needed to where they will eventually create enough energy to sustain themselves. This comes from architectural and construction elements designed to use materials that create energy-efficient ways to heat and cool as well as a tight building envelope.

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