The economic boom of the late 1980s and 90s fueled remarkable growth within the City of Redmond, home to software giants Microsoft and Nintendo America. This period saw a similar growth in the size of the City government. As the new century began, it became clear that they had outgrown their existing 1960s era building, and needed a newer, more flexible facility that would serve their needs and represent the City as they faced the future.
The new Redmond City Hall building is the largest public works project ever undertaken in the City’s history. In order to ease the financial burden that such a project would impose, Wright Runstad & Company and the City agreed upon a public / private funding mechanism which has become increasingly more popular for the financing of public projects.
The architect and design of the new City Hall was chosen through a design competition held by the City and Wright Runstad & Company. Three finalists from a field of 13 local design firms were selected to participate in the competition. In September of 2003, the finalists presented their designs to the Mayor, the City Council, Wright Runstad & Company, and the public. The City received a total of 134 comment cards from both the public and city staff. Of those who expressed a preference, 85% preferred MulvannyG2’s design. More importantly, the design was selected by the unanimous vote of the City Council.
The 113,068 square foot, 4-story building is located at 15670 NE 85th Street. The building currently houses 260 employees with plenty of room for expansion, a 150 person capacity council chambers, and multiple public spaces.
Reflecting the City’s desire to create a ‘living room for the community’, the Redmond City Hall was envisioned as a public showpiece which would be used for public gatherings and exemplify the friendliness of the community and the transparency of its governmental processes.
The architecture was designed from the inside out. The experience of the visitors and users defined the space; the forms arose from that. The design inspirations included the natural beauty of the NW forests, mountains and waters; Redmond’s location as a gateway to the mountains; outdoor lifestyles (Redmond is known as the bicycle capital of the NW); cultural diversity of the populace; high technology companies helping to make this a land of innovation; and symbols of the government.
The exterior features natural limestone panels with warm golden colors. A wall of windows reinforces the notion of an exterior-to-interior connection, and implies the transparency of our governmental process. The soaring copper canopy entrance is supported by slender columns inspired by the Northwest’s fir tree forests. Once inside, the atrium widens out, reaching four stories high. The area is filled with natural light and provides dramatic views of the Sammamish River and Trail. MulvannyG2 Architecture also incorporated intimate gardens, a large central park, and other areas where concerts, social functions, art exhibits, and community gatherings can be enjoyed by Redmond citizens.
The City will pursue a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification for the City Hall building from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to exemplify the City’s commitment to sustainable design practices. Sustainable features and practices employed in the design and construction included: recycling of at least 75% (total by weight) of all construction, demolition, and land clearing debris; use of recycled building materials and local/regional materials to reduce pollution caused by transportation; use of water efficient irrigation and drought-resistant landscaping to reduce water demand by 50% over conventional methods; providing bike storage and changing rooms and electric vehicle charging stations to encourage alternative transportation to and from work; reducing the ‘heat island’ effect through the use of reflective roofing and covered parking; and the use of natural daylight to reduce energy costs.
City employees, local citizens, and architectural critics have given rave reviews of the City Hall since the buildings completion in December of 2005. The successful private/public venture has given light to a remarkable work if Architecture and a new ‘living room’ for the City of Redmond.
Graphics and text are courtesy of MulvanyG2 Architecture.
Photographs are the copyright of © Robert Pisano 2006