Mayor Kitty Piercy, former elected officials, Tribal leaders, civic leaders, and community members will gather September 3 at 11:00 a.m. on the southeast corner of 8th Avenue and Pearl Street, to celebrate the important role of City Hall in the civic life of Eugene.
Mayor Piercy and representatives of Eugene’s former elected leadership will speak about their work and memories of their time in City Hall. The event will also include members of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde who will welcome attendees to the site, in the traditional ceded lands of the Tribe and home to their Kalapuya people. They will also lead a traditional Native American blessing ceremony for the work ahead.
Mayor Piercy will present Tribal members with a piece of Western redcedar from the wood slats that surround the 1964 building. The City is partnering with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde on the re-use of this material in the new City Hall. The perimeter of the existing building is wrapped in 16’ slats of Western redcedar on all four sides, estimated to be approximately 30,000 board feet.
“Most people see the existing wood screen as a barrier, and we’re working to transform it into something that welcomes the public in and gives warmth to the building,” said City Project Manager Michael Penwell. “It’s a valuable resource that we would never have access to otherwise. We want to use it well.”
Western redcedar, also called “tree of life,” has been an important part of cultural and spiritual life among the native people of western Oregon. The trees often marked gathering places for ceremonies, retreat, and contemplation. In addition, cedar was used in everyday life from plank houses, to baskets, woven hats, and carved bowls and other implements. Today’s Grand Ronde Tribal weavers and carvers still use cedar. The design team has been consulting with members of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde as a part of the project’s public outreach work.
The project team has set a goal of re-using or recycling 90-95% of the exiting building. BRING recycling has recently walked through the building to begin the process of identifying materials to be re-used.
Former Mayor Jim Torrey and former City Councilor now-Representative Nancy Nathanson will also speak about moments of history in the building. Immediately following the ceremony, Mayor Piercy will assist with removal of one of the building’s slats to begin the deconstruction phase of the project.
Construction of the new City Hall building will begin in 2015, with opening scheduled for the fall of 2016. The design of the new building is based on extensive public involvement and community outreach that established the project values of Identity, Participation, Simplicity, Stewardship, and Eugene@200. Phase 1 of the project includes a 25,000-30,000 square foot building that will provide public gallery/exhibit space, meeting rooms, the Council Chamber, the City Manager’s Office, the offices of the Mayor and Eugene City Council, support space, parking, a civic plaza and landscaping.
The new City Hall is the first step in resuscitating a full city block that has been disconnected from the public and the streetscape for decades. The new building will be significantly more energy efficient as well as more accessible, welcoming, and flexible for public use. The entirely public ground floor and a new civic plaza will be designed to create and active and welcoming “civic heart” for the community. The location of the building and public plaza will also strengthen 8th Avenue as one of downtown’s “Great Streets” and help connect the Park Blocks to Eugene’s riverfront.