A new home for Lake Oswego's Public Works Department
Visitors will have a lot to explore next week when the doors open for a public ribbon-cutting ceremony at Lake Oswego's new Operations and Maintenance Center.
Crews are currently putting the final touches on landscaping at the site, but the goal is for everything to be completed by Wednesday, Nov. 29, for a ceremony that will cap off 17 months of construction at the center's Lake Grove location.
"We're pretty much there," says Lake Oswego Public Works Director Anthony Hooper.
The ribbon-cutting will be held at 2 p.m. on Nov. 29 and will feature speeches from Hooper, Mayor Kent Studebaker, City Councilor Jeff Gudman, City Manager Scott Lazenby and former Budget Committee Chair Dave Berg.
The ceremony will take place in the center's new vehicle bay, which will be decked out with photos of the project taken by Lake Oswego's Dave Arpin. Monitors will display time-lapse videos of the construction.
"Dave's been taking photos every day of this project," Hooper says.
Afterwards, visitors will get a chance to explore the new facility on their own, or to join guided tour groups.
The new building will serve as the headquarters for the Public Works department, including the Parks Maintenance division, which moved in last week. In recent years, Parks Maintenance crews have operated out of a rented space in the Foothills district, but the new building has enough space to fit both divisions, creating one central hub for all of Lake Oswego's maintenance and manufacturing equipment and personnel.
There's a lot to see at the new building, which replaced the department's previous smaller headquarters on the same site. The old building was a dilapidated warehouse that wasn't originally built with public works or maintenance in mind and had far exceeded its projected lifespan. The new building was designed from the ground up to serve the department, and is expected to last up to 100 years.
The majority of the interior uses a minimalist, industrial design, with lots of exposed concrete and no false ceiling to hide the pipes and ducts — but Hooper says the aesthetic is a good fit for the department's type of work.
The building was constructed by pouring the walls as flat concrete slabs and then lifting them into place, which Hooper says is cost-effective but also very durable. In addition to its longevity, the building is seismically strong and should be able to keep functioning in the immediate aftermath of a major earthquake.
"Concrete tilt-up is about the most efficient construction method you can get," Hooper says. "The areas where we splurged were the areas that will be used by the public."
The main public entrance and reception area is located on the east side of the building, and a pair of restrooms and a conference room are directly across the hall. The conference room will be available for public use, and the design will allow people to enter for after-hours meetings even if the rest of the building is empty and locked. Members of the public will be able to reserve the conference room using the Parks & Recreation Department website, although that feature won't be available until next year.
Most of the Public Works offices are centered around a main lobby area in the center of the building, with a branching wing for Parks Maintenance offices. The lobby also connects to a pair of kitchen and conference areas — one for Public Works and the other for Parks Maintenance — which can be combined into an 1,800-square-foot, 130-person venue by pulling back a retractable wall.
"Our old cafeteria was standing room only (during meetings)," Hooper says. "To try to get the 60 people who work here in there — you just couldn't do it."
Both conference areas face out toward the west end of the site, which features a large stormwater catch basin surrounded by trees and landscaping, with a gravel path through the middle and stone benches. The area will also be the permanent home for two public art pieces: a hammer sculpture, which was originally displayed downtown, and a new sculpture created from pieces of the old McVey Avenue Bridge.
Moving west through the building, visitors will pass by the new locker rooms, a sign shop, a wood shop and separate storage areas for Public Works and Parks Maintenance.
The project also replaced the site's vehicle barn with a new garage situated just south of the main building. The garage is divided into two halves: a heated vehicle barn for storing sewer-cleaning trucks and other equipment, and a vehicle maintenance shop. A corner of the shop also includes a small police office, so LOPD officers on the Lake Grove side of town won't have to drive all the way back to City Hall to write reports.
The south end of the site is now a large parking lot that will house the City's motor pool. It sits on the former location of the original Public Works building, which was still in use until just a few months ago.
"We had to constantly shuffle in each phase (of the project)," Hooper says.
The project is finishing right on schedule, albeit slightly over budget. The new center was initially projected to cost around $20 million, but the department was able to refine the design and trim the cost down to $13.6 million by focusing only on essential features.
"The things we kept were the things we have to have," Hooper says, noting that the project's budget was well below the cost of similarly sized facilities. "Comparatively, in price by square foot, we did very well," he says.
The final cost will be $14.5 million, Hooper says, with about half of the increase due to unexpected delays encountered during the construction, including a particularly brutal winter season last year and the discovery of a number of large boulders underneath the site.
Some of the utility work and site testing also turned out to be more expensive than expected, Hooper adds, which contributed to the cost overrun. But the difference is small enough that Hooper says it can be covered by the department's rainy day fund and a few other cost-saving measures, so taxpayers won't be hit with additional costs.
IF YOU GO
What: Ribbon-cutting ceremony for Lake Oswego's new Public Works headquarters
Where: 17601 Pilkington Road
When: 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 29
Parking: The new public parking lot can be accessed from Pilkington Road, but the larger motor pool lot will also be available for public parking during the ceremony. It is accessed from the original Public Works entrance on Jean Road.