EUGENE, Ore. — The City of Eugene will hold its first open house Monday for input on a new city hall. Developers on the project say they want to take an old city hall and turn it into something that’s more inviting. They say that starts with a building that’s more transparent, which welcomes the community inside.
It’s been an idea since 1999 and now it’s starting to take shape.
“We’ve had consultants on board for about six months doing a research analysis and design work toward a new phase one city hall,” said Mike Penwell, City of Eugene Design and Construction Manager.
Penwell says there were some big concerns about the old city hall.
“It’s seismically inefficient, it’s energy inefficient, it’s raised up off the streets so it’s difficult to get in and of,” Penwell said.
Since 2012 the building’s sat vacant, but a design team has been working to completely revamp the building with $15 million set aside by city council.
“Rather than being an inward focused building and a building that’s really quite separated and disconnected from the public realm, it would be looking towards a future where Eugene City Hall is more directly engaged with the everyday life of the city,” said architect and project manager Kaarin Knudson.
Knudson says they want to give more opportunity for the public to be a part of what’s happening at city hall. She says it starts with a more open concept.
“The first phase of city hall would be located in sort of the southwest quadrant of the block with the public open space and some configuration fronting the building and directly connecting to the great street of 8th Avenue,” Knudson said.
Knudson says this helps fulfill a long shared vision of connecting the park blocks with the river front.
Even though the construction will be a full rebuild, there are thoughts about preserving some elements of the previous building.
“There’s been very clear direction and a lot of enthusiasm around capturing the energy and the potential that’s in the existing public art collection and both reinterpreting that and reusing that,” Knudson said.
City of Eugene leaders say ideas for the new city hall are evolving and Monday night’s meeting is a chance for the public to help with that vision.
The open house goes from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the downtown public library. There will be another open house on Tuesday from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at Cal Young Middle School.