Selecting The Location Of The City Hall

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Civic Centers In selecting the location for a city hall, the first consideration is whether it should be placed on a site by itself or whether it should be combined with a group of related buildings in a civic center. The oivio center has had great appeal to the city planner because It offers oertaln advantages and at the same time provides for latitude in design, The buildings that are included In civic oenters range from a grouping of strictly administrative offices and service buildings to a complex of office buildings, auditoriums, libraries, and so on.

The great advantage of a civic center is that the grouping of public buildings may prove to be convenient to the public In transacting buai-nsss that requires visits to more than one pub* lie agency. It also may result in one or more governmental units being able to use the facilities of the other. Finally, it often ia convenient to have certain facilities grouped together in order lo expedite interagency and governmental relatione.

Obviously if a city hall ia to be part of a civic center, it must be planned in relation to the other facilities. For instance, the San Jose, California, city hell Is part of a civic center consisting of a health building, communications building, police garage, county office building, sheriff's department and jail, criminal-legal building, and a juvenile canter. Some of the facilities, such aa the administrative offices in the health building, did not have to be repeated in the city hall.

Site selection for a civic center must consider the factors listed below for locating a city hall. In addition, several other points are important. The site for a civic center must permit flexibility in building arrangement. Since more land is necessary, street patterne may heve to be altered, and additional land will be needed for parking. Once the site has been selected, means must be found to preserve it for gradual development of all the units. Also, the site must be located so as not to interfere with the normal development of the business district.

On the surface the civic center idea ha a great appeal. There are those who feel that canter concept has limitations. An article by Richard A. Miller entitled ' Are Civic Centers Obsolete?, " Architectural Forum, Jsnuary, t959, highlights those objections. Miller points out that cities range in size "from mammoth concentrations" to small citiee. "As a rule, the concentration of community buildings can be increased in inverse ratio to the size of the oity." One of the strong points made in the article relates to the discussion above on da* centralization of city offices:

Government buildings—the city hall, fire station, and police stations—which were long the nucleue of most oivio canters, tand themselves to be dispersed today. The reason is obvious, Fire and police buildings, for exompls, ore best located at a central point in the street network, and with the building of expressways, this point rarely interaects with the beet location for the mayor's office or the council chamber. Service agencies (such as the water and park departments) increasingly favor head-quartera locations adjacent to their operating facilities. In Philadelphia, where two new government office-type buildings will be erected, the city also plans to remodel end expand the old oity hall in Pann Canter to house the mayor and the council — thua retaining a symbolic center of government In the heart of the city.

City-County Building The county-soot city should investigate the possibility of constructing one building to serve the needs of both the city and the county At least 40 cities and counties occupy the sama building.

The city-county building has two major advantages. First, local governmental facilities are together, which is frequently a convenience to the public and to city and county agencies that have contact with each other. The second advantage is cast savings. Depending on conditions, a joint building can be constructed for less money than two separata facilities when all coats are considered: land, engineering and architectural feea, financing chargea. and so on. Joint occupancy can result in operating savings.

The majority of cities that occupy office space with the county feel that the arrangement la vary satisfactory, Ths most often slated disadvantage is lack of room for expansion. A joint city-county building must be carefully planned so that both governmental units have area to expand in. A city and a county have different as well as similar needa. When the differences are too great, a city-county building can cause problems. The other drawback ia that expenses and responsibilities for operating the building are not always distributed equitably. It is thus extremely Important that an agreement for building operation and maintenance be worked out in advance of construction.

Location The selection of a site for a city hall will be influenced by a number of circumstances. Soma of ihese conditions are limiting in nature, such as the availability of land. There are, however, certain guiding principles that should be considered. When Tacoma and Pleroa County decided to build a city-county building the planned commiaaions of each governmental unit jointly developed a set of location factors. The six applicable principles for a city hall location are as followa;

1. "Government must serve and ba accessible to the people. . Efficiency of service ia related to how convenient governmental facilities are for the majority of those citizens using the facility,

2. "Sines public services must serve every citizen as well es, and as conveniently as possible, those activities must be located near the canter of transportation and the center of business activity. In the large city public transportation cornea to a head in the central business district. Major arterial streets are planned to bring people in and out of the city center. In most cases the city hall should be located near public transportation, if any, and certainly noar major arterial streets.

The city hall should be near the center of business activity because this is where the principal users of the facility ero moat frequently located, Ae an example, attorneys frequently must use records that are housed in city hell. A city should determine what groups most often come to city hall and place the facility as close to those groups aa possible

3 Government offices must have Integralion with, not isolation from, other offices in order to serve the public efficiently end effectively," City government agencies uae the services of professional men and other buai-neaaes. Locating the city hall near the center of business activity helps expedite the work of the agencies located in city hall.

4. "Maximum use of transit systems will result in the leest public parking areas and cause the leest congestion on city streets." Obviously this applies only to the city having some form of publio transit. People travel either by walking or by using cars, taxis, or public transit. If the city hall is readily accessible to automobiles only, parking requirements would increase in direct ratio to the increased uae of the car. For the city that doas not have transit systems, location In the center areo of the city may help to reduce parking requirements. People come to the city center to do a variety of things; frequently they park and walk between different places of business.

5. "The central business district la the real civic center of the 20th century," A lot has been said about ihe deteriorating central business district. The Impression has been given that the central city is drying up; that everything is moving out, Thua why not the city hall. In the first place there Is good reason to believe that the moving out has largely been the retail store and to a leaser extant the office building. Secondly, in the large city, the concentration of people makes It possible for certain types of business, including retail, to operate more efficiently; in the small city the general busi* mai area is staying intact for the same reason. A city cannot afford to allow the central bust* noss district to dry up because of the investment it represents. The proper placement of the city hall In the central business district can contribute to the life of this area.

6, "Mors than the initial land cost must be included under the economic considerations of the site. . ." The site should allow for expam sion. Site development cost must be considered. These expenditures include demolition of existing structures, if any, grading utilities, end flood protection,


General Building Layout Building orrongement is the next step in planning a city hall. It is helpful as a starting point to uae the following checklist of departments, offices, special-purpose rooms, and service areos in analyzing interior building requirements:

1. Departments requiring constant contact with the generel public and the collection or payment of money—for example, the finance department end tax collactor

2. Departments requiring contact with special classes of the publio —for example, city-owned utilities, building permits, personnel, city planning, and city clerk

3. Other departments including public works, recreation, police, fire, etc.

4. City council chamber and office space for use by the mayor and councilman

5. Offices for the chief administrator

6. Courtrooms

7. Storage vaults and record rooms

B, Locker rooms, rest rooms, janitor closets, public telephones, and spsce for heating, ventilating , plumbing, and electrical equipment

9. "Circulating ureas" for lobbies, corridors, elevators, and stairways

The relationship of one room or functional area to another is important, No room exists by itself, and many of the problems of living in a building arise from the neglect of this fact Departments releted in function should be located neer one another and consecutive operations planned in production-line style, Excessive lobbies and hall space add to the cost of construction without adding usable space

The height of the building will depend upon the amount of ground available and the amount of office space needed. Land generally is cheaper than additional height Taller buildings are more difficult to maintain and require more planning of the interior to get related functions on adjacent floors. Also any city building of more than two floors should have an elevator, especially if the public has any greet uae of the top floor.

Provision for a full basement housing general offices ia not often made in new city office buildings- Moat professional organizations advise against locating general officea in the basement. The besement can be used for storage and service activities such as duplicating, receiving end shipping rooms, heeling and air-conditioning equipment, and central switchboard.

Departmental Layout Departmental layout will depend on the activities carried on by the deportment end the tools or special equipment used. For example, e finance department layout may require an open area for accounting clerks and collectors with one or two private offices, a machine room, and a vault, The public works department, on the other hand, may require private offices for the director, the engineer, and individual inspectors, s drafting room, a vault, a plan or map room, and conference rooms.

The flrai atap in departmental layout is to survey the work done by the department, Work flow should be especially studied. A complete list should be made of ell employees snd equipment to occupy the spece. The possibility of future expansion should be anticipated and provision made for sddttlonal personnel. Provision also should be,made for peak rather than evarage work loads. Flow of work should, as nearly ss practicable, be in a straight line-Normally, work should come to the employees rather then their going to the work. Minor activities can ba grouped around areas of major activity.

Private Office* A major factor in the determination of space needa is the question of who should get private offices snd under what circumstances. More space is required for private offices; space utilization Is restricted through segregation of areas tor private offices; and considerable expense is involved in rearranging and reerecting partitions. Ventilation, lighting, and heating problems ere complicated by a number of small offices; supervision and coordination of work, flow of work, and communications are made more difficult. An open, well-arranged office has a more orderly and businesslike appearance than a series of small offices

Certain conditions justify private offices. First, transactions of a confidential nature re* quire private facilities, Generel conference rooms, however, where confidential meetings may be held aa occasion demands, may reduce Ihe need for private offices- Second, privacy is often desirable not so much because of the confidential nature of the work, but because of the number of persons interviewed or because the work is of an independent nature which requires more quiet and privacy than the open office will allow There is little agreement as to who should have private officea except for the chief administrative officer and department heads.

Chief Admin if ttator'i Office Tha location of the chief administrator s office ia important to good public relations. It should be located so as to give the impression of being easily reachad and open to any caller, but it should not be too prominent. The second floor ordinarily is a good location since some effort must be expended to visit it, and the casual or merely curious individual is less likely to intrude-

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  • lucia
    How big should a city hall be?
    6 months ago
  • tommy
    How much space does a city hall need?
    2 months ago

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