The "cynics and the critics," as Mayor Keith Curry referred to them in his dedication speech on Saturday, May 4, fought long and hard to prevent this project. As a lover of all things modern and beautiful, I am happy to report, THEY DID NOT WIN.
Newport beach only has about 86,000 people and this structure may seem excessive. But the tax base is rather large due to the proximity of coastline beach communities as well as a large upscale shopping center. Frankly the money is there. And the old City Hall, built in 1948 with a population of about 10,000, had been substantially outgrown, and unable to support the community.
In a loose order of priority, I will go through my TOP TEN reasons why I passionately love the new Civic Center.
#10 More Free Parking Spots
The library which is on the adjacent property as well as the old Civic Center were completely out of parking. I have circled both lots many times looking for spots. The new Civic Center has a large parking structure with 450 FREE parking spaces as well as spots for electric cars.
The park space houses the first dog park in Newport Beach and probably the only dog park in Newport Beach due to the price of real estate. The clever planners took an unbuildable bit of land adjacent to the complex, added a bridge over a busy intersection and created a dog park. Yay Fido!
The beautiful facility includes a Community Room, with kitchen and theater including a lovely open air patio and all can be rented for reasonable prices. Let the party planning begin!
|Side view of Community Center|
The new Civic Center is truly a building for the future. It will be LEED certified Silver or Gold. It has advanced lighting and climate controls where windows and blinds close and open automatically. Big overhangs shelter interior offices from the sun. And, office windows open. Yes they open. In the United States, most office buildings have no opening windows including 100% that I have worked in.
The wave roof design includes structural channels to cool the building. Large windows are built to maximize light.
|A balcony for outdoor meetings|
|There are little windows up top that automatically open for air flow.|
|Natural light built in all over the place.|
The building is amazingly high tech (but of course). It was impressive to see the server room (yes us geeks got a tour), the traffic control center as well as the command center where city council meetings are filmed every Tuesday.
|We happened upon the I.T. guy touring his family in the server space.|
Albert hopped in the cold room and had a bonding moment.
Alex observes in mock interest.
|Traffic control shows how the lights are timed and controlled centrally (who knew?).|
|Media guy who controls the filming and cameras for all the City Council meetings.|
|City Council meeting from the viewpoint of members. See the cameras, keyboards etc. Really tricked out.|
#5 The Library Expansion
We have loved the Newport Beach Main Library, which opened 1994, from day one. We live less than a mile away and have spent many hours in this fantastic facility. The new Civic Center project also allowed for the Central Library Expansion of 17,000 square feet. This included a large addition to the children's library for reading, playing and relaxing with kids 12-and-under.
|New children's wing|
Visually, the new Civic Center structure is bright, cheerful and modern with its punched up colors. As we walked around we enjoyed the bright yellows, chartreuse greens and vivid blues. So nice. And many times in unexpected places.
#3 The Furniture
Oh. The. Furniture. Eames. Scandinavian and Italian. Let me empty the trashcans in this beautifully appointed building. I would die happy.
|This is my favorite office. By far. I loved the blue, yellow and green Eames office furniture.|
#2 The Landscaping
The landscaping for the site is stupendous. The parks and entire perimeter landscaping are California natives. The interior courtyard is a nice expanse of grass for events, parties and lounging about. And there are other little groupings of interesting plantings tucked here and there. And a few bizarre bunnies which, frankly, were the only thing that threw me off. Just a little. The landscape architect was PWP Landscape Architecture.
Below is the "Stonehenge" of rabbits. From the brochure "a different, more passive approach than a tot-lot, the bunnies are meant for families and kids to find, play around, take photos with, etc." Not exactly sure what the "etc." is.
|Palm tree garden.|
#1 The Architecture
I love the architecture. The building architect was Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. Bohlin Cywinski Jackson is famous for many significant projects, including the design of at least a dozen Apple stores. This building and surrounding grounds certainly will be a significant structure in Southern California. The Civic Center was notably designed for both form and function and to also bring the outdoors in. Every little detail was designed and every little thing is in place. It is difficult to take it all in, but I tried, with a few shots of details that particularly captivated me.
|I love the shape of the Council Chambers. Maybe I'll go watch a few meetings now from time to time.|
|Viewing platform up top -- you can see the ocean and it gently sways in the wind.|
|Bridge over a natural gully.|
|Cool LED path lighting blends in yet is so sculptural.|
|Loved the industrial feel to the building's interior.|
|Sun baffles everywhere protect East and West facing window expanses.|
|Could NOT take enough pictures of the roof.|
|I bet this is the original flagpole from the old City Hall (see early pictures up top in this post).|
As a taxpayer in Newport Beach, I am so pleased that our city had the vision and dedication to construct this streamlined, efficient and beautiful Civic Center.
|Mayor and other important people who helped get this done.|
I think Mayor Keith Curry is the third from the left.
As the major dedication ceremonies commenced on Saturday, May 4, naysayers continued to protest.
If Newport Beach constructed the Taj Mahal for $131 million (the correct figure), as far as I am concerned, they got a bargain. The entire complex was built during a massive construction recession,which means money worked extra hard. Plus the city Fact Sheet doesn't include how many people were fully employed for the past three years constructing the complex.
"How different our city would be if we listened to the cynics and the critics," Mayor Curry said. This citizen of Newport Beach is happy to have such an outstanding example of architecture in our city, and, is very proud.
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