Work: Lake Elsinore Civic Center
Lake Elsinore’s new Civic Center places public space for the people at its heart with open arms to the Lake and mountain views. The design embodies the charge for “a new regional destination and vision for the future.” Befitting and representative of a proud democracy, the people occupy the center of this transparent government building.
CIVIC CENTER PROGRAM
A new Civic Center for Lake Elsinore is literally formed by two 60-foot wide arcing segments – the four-story, 50-foot high City Hall (45,000 sf) and the Library (25,600 sf), surrounding a 100-foot diameter public outdoor room. The building includes the double-height Council Chambers (6,100 sf) reached via a grand stair with views of the Lake, a ground level café/restaurant (2,500 sf), expansion space (15,000 sf) and car parking on two basement levels (200 spaces). The Post Office (4,500 sf + 5,500 sf expansion) and municipal parking structure (300 spaces) are located in the northern parcel along Spring Street.
City Hall’s space organization adheres to the program in terms of location, size and adjacencies with a total of 45,000 sf spread over four floors. Administrative Services (8,900 sf) is located on the ground floor with a long public counter directly off the main entry. Five City Council offices (500 sf), City Clerk’s Office (2,000 sf) and Public Lobby (1,400 sf) are also easily accessible on the ground floor. The 250-seat Council Chambers (6,000 sf) are located on the 2nd floor of the southeast quadrant, accessible by a pair of elevators and a grand staircase with lake views. City Manager’s Office (6,400 sf) along with additional City Hall space (4,600 sf) is located on the 2nd floor in the northeast quadrant. Community Development (12,600 sf) is located on the 3rd floor. Public Works (9,300 sf) and Parks and Recreation (3,300 sf) are located on the 4th floor.
The curved segments of the building offer natural ventilation and dramatic views for all workers and look out on activities in the civic space. A 25-foot wide, two-story grand portal through the building allows the public to enter City Hall from a Palm Court on the east from Spring Street. A slot of space offers a second entry from the northwest between the Library and City Hall with dramatic views from Limited Street.
The Public Library is located on the western segment with views across the grounds to the Lake. 10,000 sf of space is located on the ground floor and a15,000 sf double height space on the second floor.15,000 sf of expansion space is located above the library.
INCUBATOR AND SPRING STREET MIXED-USE
The Incubator (10,000 sf + 10,000 sf expansion) is located along Spring Street as part of a three-building commercial / office corridor (20,000 sf) for restaurants, cafes, retail and daycare with professional office space on the second floor. These 35-foot linear buildings bring additional mixed-use activity to the civic campus and are scaled to the height and horizontal proportions of historic commercial row buildings. The southeast corner building is a prime spot for a two-story restaurant with a roof deck overlooking the Lake.
Recalling the historic heyday of the Aloha Pier, the new Pier draws people and development to the Lake. Extending from a trellis-covered axis along the linear buildings, the pier includes a ship-like structure designed for a variety of uses such as a cafe, restrooms, changing facilities and bike rental.
NORTHERN PARCEL: PARKING / POST OFFICE
500 parking spots are located at two primary locations. 200 spots are on two levels below City Hall and accessed by a ramp at Spring Street and 300 spots in a two-story municipal parking structure located behind the Post Office. This 30-foot-high building located along Spring Street also includes commercial property at grade plus two levels of office space above, totaling 40,000 sf for development.
LANDSCAPE / OPEN SPACE
The Elsinore Valley exists today because of water. Located in a desert region, early settlers made do with scarce local water resources. Elsinore Valley is inextricably linked to the future of water: water is the ultimate infrastructural limitation and opportunity in the development of the region. Access to water for irrigation, habitat creation, and recreational activity will determine valley’s ability to function and flourish. By embracing the limits of water as a resource, the new Civic Center will become a meaningful and dynamic place, particular to its location and emblematic of our time.
WATER MANAGEMENT: COLLECT + STORE + RE-USE
Forwarding the valley’s commitment to sustainable water management practices, the new Civic Center park design strategy combines a palette of native, low-water use plantings with a state-of-the-art water capture and grey-water reuse system, delivering a zero potable water use landscape. Ecological and programmatic elements then layer upon the water strategy, focusing water where it is most needed – where water will best benefit the ecological, cultural and sustainable future of the park.
Driven by gravity, the water capture and storage system begins at the highest point in the design, the building’s green roofs. In addition to the benefits of building cooling and increased roof membrane longevity, the green roofs serve as rainwater collectors, capturing and directing excess runoff to underground cisterns for storage and future reuse. Within the buildings, a fully integrated grey-water system captures excess water from building elements including air handling units, sinks and drinking fountains. Adjacent to the buildings at ground level, plazas and terraces are constructed from permeable recycled pavers, allowing water to permeate down into sub-grade collection systems, further contributing to the water storage cisterns.
PARK DESIGN & PROGRAMMING STRATEGY
Moving from east to west, the park’s design and accompanying programming progresses from formal, active spaces to more informal, passive spaces. Beginning at the park’s eastern edge, a series of stepped activity terraces and tree groves are strategically located west of the buildings to provide shade for outdoor seating areas and the western building facade. Three different California native trees with low-water needs are proposed for the terraces including California Big Leaf Maple, California Sycamore, and California Coastal Live Oak. These broad canopy trees are well suited for the arid southern California climate and will provide summertime shade along with seasonal color.
At the center of the park a large, open meadow is subtly graded into two terraces, with occasional drifts of California Coastal Live Oaks. This low-maintenance landscape embodies in a powerful landscape form the city’s commitment to natural habitat restoration and responsible water. The terraces sculpt the existing continuous slope to the lake into two levels suitable for events, festivals, and large gatherings. An amphitheater is set into the natural southwestern slope and is oriented to the spectacular view of the lake, mountains and sunsets. To the south of the amphitheater, a new public beach, recreation pier and park building allow visitors to interact with the waters.
Framing the western edge of the meadow, a dense planting of native riparian trees extend along the drainage corridor, creating a shaded setting for pedestrian boardwalks, and a public sculpture walk. Continuing north, the tree plantings turn the corner and form a wooded northern edge to the park shading public amenities adjacent to the Public Library such as children’s playgrounds. The arcing, meandering pathways continue to the east at a 5% slope up the hill with scenic overlooks.
The Civic Center courtyard is an open, democratic space consisting of permeable paving materials and an interactive and cooling water feature for hot summer days. Forming a green perimeter to the site, the Civic Center streetscape extends into the city, connecting to local and regional pathways, bicycle routes and public bus lines.
This approach to civic-minded development furthers Lake Elsinore’s successful business-driven initiatives (Mayor Magee’s “Taking Care of Business” approach) while actively engaging its citizens and putting them at the center of the equation. Enhancing the quality of life for Lake Elsinore, this innovative sustainable design and environment strategically located between the lake and mountains imbues the community with hope for a healthy future.