How Can Government Be More Creative With Public Buildings?

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This topic contains 6 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Henry Brown 5 years, 8 months ago.

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  • #178295

    In an upcoming GovLoop guide on citizen engagement, we are highlighting the story of Takoma Park, MD. Here’s an excerpt:

    “Traditionally, City Hall was a staid place,” said Takoma Park, MD, City Manager Suzanne Ludlow. “You would come to get certain permits, you would pay bills and you would come for city council meetings.” However, once they made the move to building a facility that co-located their city hall and a community center, “it became a lot less intimidating.”

    The impetus for the co-location was that the city saw something interesting happening in the afternoons at their old city hall – children hanging out in the hallways after the three nearby schools let out for the day. This sparked the realization that the city needed more community space where the citizens, especially their children. So the city secured funding for a new city hall building that would double as a community center.

    Today, the city hall includes everything from traditional city hall staples like city council chambers, notary services, tax and permit offices as well as non-traditional city hall opportunities like community space for art shows, a multi-use theatre, and recreational and afternoon programs for kids.

    I’m not sure if this is a common practice or if this move was relatively innovative, so I’d be curious to learn from your experience:

    1. How can government be more creative with public buildings by co-locating services or functional areas that don’t traditionally fit together?

    2. Do you have examples that you can share? Please do so!

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  • #178307

    Henry Brown

    The more things change the more they stay the same” This has been an ongoing issue for what seems like forever.
    IMO as long as most government entities, be it local state or federal, are more concerned about their “power” nothing significant will come of this issue. especially the sharing of resources between organizations.

    Another issue that IMO has limited the expansion of this concept is the perceived security issues, what security manager would want to let uncontrolled masses into the same space that government officials were trying to do their work.

    This concept seems to have had various degrees of success in “smaller” commuter communities, two communities that come to mind are Madison Al and Tomball Tx, where the tax base is insufficient to support separate facilities for most functions and because a significant percentage of the people have at least some involvement within the community.

  • #178305

    J. Michael Munger

    The city I work for certainly does have the normal accoutrements one would expect at city hall. But our new municipal building—Gold LEED Certified, I might add—shares the same footprint with the city’s tennis facility, the community center, the pool/water park, the amphitheater, and a large barrier-free playground. There are undoubtedly other cities with the same set-up, but I must say that it is conducive to a compact, universal, collaborative feeling.

    Between council meetings, planning permits, the green market, swim lessons, food trucks, and movies or concerts at the amphitheater, everyone knows that if it is happening, it is happening at village center.

    As far as multi-use of village hall itself, in the upstairs foyer the city’s art commission curates and displays art from local artists. I have seen many residents admiring the art, but for me as an employee it is a welcome dose of color in the middle of even the worst days.

  • #178303

    Thanks for this prime example. “Village center” – a return to simpler days?

  • #178301

    Good point on the security issue, Henry.

  • #178299

    J. Michael Munger

    While the city I work for has about 60k residents, they style themselves as a “Village.” So Village Hall, Village Center, etc…

    But yes, a compact city center does harken back to olden days.

  • #178297

    Terrence Hill

    A GSA manager from Boston presented at the Mobile Work Exchange Town Hall meeting and stated that they not only plan to implement co-working/shared space among GSA employees, but envision the day when all Federal agencies could share co-working space in Federal buildings across the country. If you are a Fed and need an office space, you could just reserve an office using the online “BookIt” system, and go to the nearest Federal building. Pretty cool concept! I hope it works.

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