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Architect Sheds Light on New Civic Center

Slated to open in February, the Newport Beach Civic Center is the vision of architecture firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.

When the new Civic Center in Newport Beach is unveiled, chances are it will put the city's old home to shame, predicted the man commissioned to design it.

Architect Peter Bohlin, founder of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, the architecture firm handpicked to design the new Civic Center, spoke to about 100 people at an event on Monday at the Newport Beach Central Library and shed some light on the city's most-anticipate building.

"I think it will be a magical place," Bohlin said. "I envision it filled with people."

The new Civic Center, scheduled to formally open by February, will replace the current Newport Beach City Hall and will include a 17-acre park, a 450-space parking structure, a library addition and a pedestrian bridge. Some of the most imaginative features are an oculus or skylight―a massive polymer sail that will glow at night.

"It will be dreamlike, and it will glow," said Bohlin, whose firm was founded in 1965 and responsible for several high-profile projects including the Apple Store, known as "the cube" in New York City and Seattle's City Hall.

But some residents have voiced their displeasure with the large sail, at the meeting one asked, "Will the sail grow on us?"

"If you take it off, it's going to be a dull building," Bohlin answered.

The audience was shown sketches and computer-generated drawings to explain how the plans for the Civic Center evolved over the last six years.

"That shows you we had good thoughts, but we didn't have it all understood," Bohlin said about some of the concept changes. "It's intense to think about how we wrestled through all of this."

The building is being constructed with environmentally friendly attributes, according to Bohlin. The building will earn Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification and might even attain gold, predicted Bohlin.

It will include passive heating and cooling systems, California-friendly landscaping in the main portion of the park, and facilities designed to increase the number of city workers who carpool, bike to work, or use alternative-fuel vehicles.

"I know you will all nurture it," Bohlin told the audience. "Because that's the way you are."

Charles Wolfe Masters, Jr. October 25, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Already "rush-hour" traffic has become more difficult at the existing nightmare intersection of San Miguell, Avocado and MacArthur. How is this going to be resolved? Once the building is opened i predict there will be lots of collisions and road-rage.
Ed Thorp October 25, 2012 at 05:34 PM
I've had a hard-hat tour of the building and the addition to the new library. I think you will be amazed at the architectural beauty and environmental friendliness of both. The new city hall will, I believe, be a showpiece that will be sought out by visitors to Newport Beach and bring favorable publicity to the city. We already have 1.5 million visits a year to the library and the new second entrance and expanded parking will facilitate their experience. --Ed Thorp

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