What's new at the new City Hall?
by Bronwyn Wilson
Senior Staff Reporter
When you step inside the new Woodinville City Hall, scheduled to open in March, you will not see a family of quail skitter by or butterflies flit about.
Nevertheless, you'll have that outdoor-feeling just the same. As an illustration, a colored concrete wall begins at the entry and continues on inside the building.
"So you feel outside, when you're inside," said Laroy Gant, project architect of Lewis Architects.
He went on to explain, "The wall is set up as a circulation spine. It defines what's public and what's private. It's 14 feet tall and it will grab your attention."
Throughout the building will be stained colored concrete, lots of glass showing greenery outside.
The idea, he said, is to pull the outside into the inside with the eye.
And there's lots for the eye to see. Awash in natural light, the foyer is made up of a large series of windows allowing for views of native plants in outdoor gardens. The spacious building has a very high ceiling, reminiscent of standing inside a barn looking up to the loft.
According to Permit Center Director Dean McKee, these architectural features have a dual purpose. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but also energy efficient.
McKee said that the concrete block wall, which slices diagonally through the building, is intended to absorb heat and release heat.
"Most of the windows face north which will allow light in but not sunlight," McKee explained.
Smaller windows will allow light in but not too much heat from sunshine during the warmer months. This energy-saving design is one of several cost-effective features.
Looking to the future, another feature saves money as well as time. Meeting rooms are wired for computer teleconferencing, which will save the City the expense of sending employees to other cities for meetings.
"This building has literally miles of wire in it," McKee said.
Community Development Director Ray Sturtz said, "Rather than have everybody get on the road, w'll talk to others through the PC."
Sturtz said that teleconferencing will increase efficiency and sensitivity to the environment by reducing trips.
The high-tech building will also have a computer room available for training. City staff will not have to go out of town to special programs.
Built by Brunner Brothers Construction of Lynnwood, the new City Hall is roughly 25,000 square feet and cost close to four million dollars. Its design is based on Woodinville's heritage. "Our history has always been important to this community," Sturtz said.
Several years ago the City asked citizens what their vision for Woodinville was. Citizen responses directed the City to develop a design guideline which would reflect a Northwest woodland character in Woodinville's commercial architecture.
With this design guideline in mind, the new City Hall has a pitched roof similar to the roof of a farm house and exposed beams like those seen in barns or in log cabins.
Project Architect Gant said that the building's design fell into place once the architects knew what the City wanted, what the site looked like and what the architectural flavor of the area was.
"The building started to form itself," Gant said. "I think it's very original. It's very site driven."
With a wood post and beam design throughout, the structure is built with heavy timber, and as people pass through the new City Hall, they'll see exposed wood beams and columns creating a solid presence of durability.
"This is here to last," claimed Gant.
The cedar shingles and stucco on the outside of the building also work well for the rural, mill-town look citizens said they want to see in the community.
Gant said, "The new City Hall fits so well within the community. It has a nice scale to it. And it looks good. It has soft materials as opposed to hard materials."
Sturtz said the building's construction is tasteful and modern, and added, "People will find the new City Hall very comfortable."
Speaking of comfort, City staff will find some added attractions to aid their well-being in the workplace.
A key card access for entry will ensure security to those who need to be on the premises off-hours. Also, a locker room and showers will accommodate employees working out in the field, such as building inspectors subject to crawl spaces and mud. And the showers and lockers will be on-hand for emergency situations in the time of natural disasters.
"We're set up for emergency operations and extended long working hours," said Permit Center Director McKee. He mentioned that the Woodinville Fire and Life Safety District is the main center for Woodinville's emergency preparedness.
However, there's one thing that hasn't been put into place yet, but is on the radar screen.
"We're hoping we can organize an information center with volunteers," said McKee. "But at this point, it's not firmed up."
Sturtz added that perhaps senior citizens would want to undertake the volunteer operation. Volunteers at the center will direct visitors to the different departments as well as look up needed information pertaining to the city.
The date of the official dedication is yet to be announced.