‘With a shovel full of dirt’; Vision for new Ivins City Hall aims to capture city’s spirit

Composite image. Background photo shows the current Ivins City Hall located on Main Street, Ivins, Utah, Feb. 6, 2020. Inset image shows rendering of preliminary designs for the new Ivins City Hall | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Ivins City residents and City Council members got a first peek Thursday at potential designs for the new city hall set to break ground this year with many unique – and personalized – features. Estimated completion is scheduled for late 2021.

This image shows a rendering of preliminary designs for the new Ivins City Hall featuring a rammed earth wall, Ivins, Utah, Feb. 6, 2020 | Photo of rendering by Hollie Reina, St. George News

The current building was built 25 years ago and is not meeting the needs of the city, which has seen rapid growth rates in the last decade, Ivins City Mayor Chris Hart said.

Hart said every office in the roughly 6,000-square-foot building is currently doubled up with personnel, adding that a portion of the city council chambers has been taken to provide space for a conference room and there is no space for another employee.

As the city’s population continues to grow and diversify, the city’s staff must also grow its size and diversify its functions, but the current facility will not allow for that, Hart said.

“This (building) is simply inadequate for our needs now,” he said.

In addition to growing beyond the space they have available, the city also has a need to house the Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department which Ivins manages.

While the two cities work cooperatively with their emergency personnel, the management responsibility for law enforcement falls on Ivins, Hart said, and the management duties for fire and emergency medical services fall on Santa Clara.

Currently, law enforcement occupies a roughly 3,000-square-foot space inside Santa Clara City Hall, and they too have grown to capacity with much of the space deemed inadequate for their growing needs.

The city plans to convert the existing city hall into the new facilities for Santa Clara-Ivins public safety, which Hart said would double their space and likely satisfy their needs through build-out as well.

The new facility, which will be built just north of the existing city hall, will satisfy the demands of the city for at least the next 10-15 years, if not clear through build-out, he said.

Planning for the future

Once city leaders determined that their needs for a new building were critical, Hart said they put out a request for proposals to hire an architecture firm to begin planning the facility.

This image taken of a slide show presentation shows the potential layout for the interior of the new Ivins City Hall, Ivins, Utah, Feb. 6 | Photo of slide by Hollie Reina, St. George News

Several firms responded, and the city ultimately chose VCBO Architecture. The firm was chosen, Hart said, in large part because of the architectural firm’s process in including city staff and leaders.

Architects met with the council as well as department heads and staff in each department as part of a critical needs analysis that took into account the city’s current needs as well as needs for the foreseeable future, Hart said.

The new design creates space for each department and provides opportunity for staff to collaborate effectively between departments.

It will also include several community spaces that will allow for citizens to hold community events and other meetings in the building.

In addition to building sufficient space, Hart said he wants the building to be a net zero building, meaning it will produce the energy it uses.

“We hope to create terrific efficiencies in the building’s shell and then install mechanical systems that are highly efficient,” Hart said.

First looks at the plan for the building show solar panels on the roof as well as drought-resistant landscaping that will allow for greater energy and water conservation.

Hart said Ivins continues to be a leader in solar energy usage, with solar panels in place at four city locations, generating 40% of the city facilities’ needs already.

“We want this building to be independent so that, essentially, if the power grid went down, that building would continue to function,” Hart said.

Hart added that implementing energy efficiencies will also help save the city a significant amount of money in energy costs over the course of the building’s life span.

‘With a shovel full of dirt’

Perhaps one of the most important design elements of the project is the building’s ability to capture the history and spirit of the city itself.

VCBO architect Tyler Froelich presented the initial designs for the new City Hall both in neighborhood meetings and at Thursday’s City Council meeting, noting a very special feature called a rammed earth wall.

The wall, created from layers of dirt, water and compression, will stretch from the outside of the building all the way inside and mirror the colors of the surrounding earth.

Hart said he hopes to be able to use dirt from special places in Ivins, as well as from residents’ own yards, to create the wall in a way that fully embraces the people and history of the city.

“This is going to bring our whole community together with a shovel full of dirt,” Hart said.

In 1908, two very creative engineers figured out a way to cut a canal across the Red Mountain and bring water to the city, Hart said. Prior to bringing water to the land, it was just hard, parched red earth.

Thirteen families volunteered a year of their lives to dig the canal, and in exchange they got the original 13 parcels of land in the city. Hart said that is how Ivins was born – with red earth, water and hard work.

The themes of earth, water and hard work will be woven throughout the building’s design, particularly in the rammed earth wall.

“I can’t imagine anything that would better fulfill the wish that we had that it would somehow reflect the city in a special way,” Hart said.

The designs are still in the preliminary phase, but so far most of the reaction to the vision has been full of good energy, Froelich said in his presentation at the council meeting.

Going forward, the city is in the process of selecting a construction manager/general contractor who will work with the architects and city leaders as they finalize the design and get set for construction.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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