Tuesday, April 15, 2014

New City Hall Facade Gets Approval from Easton Historic District Commission

By Christina Georgiou

A scale model of the center section of Easton's new city hall building,
to be erected on South Third Street, was shown to the city's
historic district commission members and the public Monday evening.
Click on any photo for a full size view.

Easton's new city hall building got a nod of approval Monday evening from the city's historic district commission after board members and the public got a look at a scale model of the planned structure. Commission member Scott Voelker, who works for architectural firm Spillman Farmer, recused himself from the vote, and chair Robert Jacobs was not present.

Easton's Historic District Commission had formerly expressed worries that the building would be too stark and didn't convey the civic nature of its use.

New plans show that a bridge connecting the parking deck behind the building to the city's  municipal offices, which will be located on the second and third floors of the structure, has been eliminated. Additional changes include polished green granite that will frame the building's main entrance on South Third Street, and a honed granite base on the east, north, and south sides of the structure.

An artist's rendering of plans for the third floor, which, along
with the second level, will house the City of Easton's
municipal offices.
An art glass canopy will also be located over the main entrance, which will also serve patrons for the bus station, to be situated on the first floor.

The upper part of Easton's city hall will be constructed of precast concrete of two different textures.

Other changes to the plan were made too, said Christine Uhler, the commission's historic consultant, but they were not talked about in detail Monday evening.

"It's hard to discuss every single detail as this is a very complex project," Uhler said.

She added that the board's job is just to ensure the modern building fits in with the neighborhood and the historic structures that surround it.

Spillman Farmer architect Randy Galiotto highlighted
some of the new city hall's features with a scale model
of the middle of the structure to Easton
Historic District Commission members Monday evening.
The scale model shown Monday evening reflects some
changes from the original concept drawing that was
presented to the public by architectural firm Spillman
Farmer last October. Easton's Historic District Commission
had requested that the building's design better convey
its civic purpose.
Spillman Farmer architect Randy Galiotto highlighted some of the new city hall's features with a scale model of the middle of the structure, as well as some material samples.

The precast concrete is a sand color and was chosen to reflect Easton's role in the cement industry in the early 20th century. The city's current city hall is located in the Alpha Building, which once housed the office of the Alpha Cement company, a prominent manufacturer of Portland cement.

"I hope you like it because we have a million dollars of it coming," he said.

Glass windows feature prominently across the front of the building's facade and are meant to symbolize "transparency in government" Galioto added.

The artist who will construct the art glass canopy over the main entrance has been chosen and Spillman Farmer is in talks with the individual, Galiotto said, but he declined to divulge the name, promising it would be announced soon.

The new city hall's interior will have some unique features too, the architect said.

"We're hoping to be able to afford a wood ceiling on the third floor that will be a topography of Easton," Galiotto said.

The first floor will house a lobby area that will provide access to the new LANTA bus station on the north side of the building, as well as about 7,500 square feet of commercial space on the south side. The commercial space will additionally have a separate entrance along South Third Street, Galiotto said.

"We are hoping to to with a single tenant," Panto said. He added that the city does not yet have any specific tenant or use in mind for the commercial space and is open to any suitable use. "We just want to get a fair market price."

"I think you'll see we took as many of the Historic District Commission recommendations as we could," Panto said, while thanking commission members for their input. "I think we've ended up with a much better project than was proposed."

The site of Easton's new city hall, a LANTA bus station
and commercial space, along with a new parking deck
on South Third Street in the Downtown district.
Construction on the new city hall building has
not yet begun, though work is under way
for the parking deck that accompanies it.
Construction on the new city hall building has not yet begun, though work is under way for the parking deck that accompanies it. Harsh weather last fall and over the winter delayed the work's progress, Panto said.

The mayor said he hopes the city will be able to move into the new city hall by July of 2015, a couple of months later than originally anticipated. The parking deck must be completed before work on the building can begin, due to space considerations, he added.

Once the parking deck is completed, work on the building can commence. Panto said he expects construction on the new city hall may disrupt traffic on South Third Street for a few weeks to accommodate cranes necessary to raise the building's steet beams, concrete, and glass into place.

"One or two lanes of South Third Street may be shut down," he said, adding that he doesn't expect the street will need to be closed entirely for the construction.

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