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Hillsboro Civic Center

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Hillsboro Civic Center
The north side of the Center.
General information
Type City hall
Location Hillsboro, Oregon, United States
Coordinates 45°31′19″N 122°59′21″W / 45.521994°N 122.989127°W / 45.521994; -122.989127Coordinates: 45°31′19″N 122°59′21″W / 45.521994°N 122.989127°W / 45.521994; -122.989127
Current tenants City of Hillsboro
Construction started 2003
Completed 2005
Owner City of Hillsboro
Height 78 feet (24 m), 6 stories
Technical details
Floor count 5 stories (one level of above ground parking)
Floor area 168,436 square feet (15,648.2 m2)
Design and construction
Architect LRS Architects
Structural engineer KPFF
Services engineer Interface Engineering
Civil engineer WRG Design
Main contractor Skanska Construction USA
Awards and prizes LEED Gold Certified

The Hillsboro Civic Center is a government-built, mixed-use development in downtown Hillsboro, Oregon, United States. The development includes the city hall for the county seat of Washington County, located west of Portland, Oregon. Covering 6 acres (24,000 m2), the Civic Center has a total of over 165,000 square feet (15,300 m2) in the complex. The total of six stories for the main structure makes the building the tallest in the city, tied with Tuality Community Hospital. In addition to government offices, the Civic Center includes retail space, public plazas, and residential housing. The complex was built to centralize city government functions under one roof.

Design of the complex began in 2002, with construction beginning in 2003. After completion in 2005, the building was awarded the LEED Gold certification for sustainability, the second city hall in the United States to earn that distinction. Environmentally friendly technologies used include occupancy sensors, ventilation that monitors carbon dioxide levels to determine when to activate, high performance exterior glass to reduce heat loss, and solar panels to generate electricity.


Plans for the 6-acre (24,000 m2) complex began as part of the city’s 2020 comprehensive plan. Development plans from six teams of developers and architects were submitted to the city in October 2001.[1] These plans included designs for public plazas, a library branch, residential units, retail space, and a new city hall.[1] Formal design proposals were submitted in early 2002.[2] The project was designed to consolidate city government and to anchor redevelopment of the downtown core that would reinvigorate downtown.[3] This included the plan to turn the area into a zone with 18 hours of activity each day, instead of businesses closing at 5:00 pm when the city and county governments closed.[4] Additionally, conference space was planned to accommodate use by both city and county governments, and by private groups.[4]

In April 2002, Specht Properties was selected as the developer of the project[5] after scoring higher with the council appointed committee formed to rate each of three developer's proposals, with Gerding/Edlen Development and Trammell Crow Company losing out to Specht.[6] Construction on the complex began in June 2003 when an old grain store at the site was demolished to make room for the center.[7] A total of eight buildings were torn down to make room the complex as part of a redevelopment of a brownfield site.[4]

Plans also called for retail space, housing units, and a library branch.[5] Though the library section was built, a library branch did not open at the site.[8] LRS Architects designed the complex with Skanska USA serving as the general contractor.[9] The structural engineering was done by KPFF Consulting Engineers, services engineering was completed by Interface Engineering, and civil engineering for the project was handled by WRG Design.[3]

The building was finished in January 2005 with city officials and employees moving into the buildings by the end of March.[10] A public grand opening was held on July 16, 2005, to officially open the center.[11] Total cost of the public portion of the project was $34 million,[12] with construction totaling $23.5 million.[3] Prior to completion the city leased space in several downtown buildings, including the county's Public Services Building where Hillsboro also held city council meetings.[4] Later in 2005 a coffee shop was added as a tenant in part of the retail space, and in 2007 the restaurant space in the building was leased to NW Hayden Enterprises for a restaurant scheduled to open in 2008.[13] In April 2009, the plaza was renamed as the Tom Hughes Civic Center Plaza in honor of former mayor Tom Hughes who was mayor when the building was constructed.[14]


Hillsboro's Civic Center is a modern glass building with a stone base and brick highlights.[15] There are two main buildings, the Civic Center housing government offices and the Plaza Building housing retail space.[16] The plazas surrounding the structures contain an inlaid quartzite river, basalt planters, and Victorian style benches.[17] Additionally, it was designed with large windows facing the north in order to reflect the giant sequoia trees located across the street at the Washington County Courthouse, with the trees dating back to the 1880s.[15]

Government offices at the Civic Center

At a total of six stories tall, the building is tied for the tallest building in Hillsboro with Tuality Community Hospital standing 78 feet (24 m) tall.[5][18] Inside the building features high ceilings on the first floor and a large, open public space.[19] Daylight and exterior views are present in 90% of the offices in city hall.[9]


Hillsboro Civic Center won the award for Best Public Project in the state of Oregon for 2005 from Northwest Construction magazine for the general contractor Skanska USA.[20] It is the first municipal headquarters in Oregon to meet all its energy needs with renewable sources.[21] During development, the project first aimed for attaining a Silver certification from the United States Green Building Council.[22] Instead, the project was awarded the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certification for environmental sustainability by the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership.[9] This was the second Gold rating given to a city hall in the U.S. after Seattle’s city hall earned the distinction, and the seventh building in Oregon to earn that level of certification.[9][23]

Contributing factors leading to this award included that during construction, 92% of construction waste was recycled, and non-wood wheat board was used in some of the walls.[20] Additionally, 18 solar panels were installed on the building to generate power for use in the building, with the city purchasing all additional power through renewable power sources, funded in part by Portland General Electric and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation,[24] while the building is 42% more energy efficient than comparable buildings.[23] Other environmental friendly amenities include occupancy sensors, ventilation that monitors carbon dioxide levels to determine when to activate, high performance exterior glass to reduce heat loss, infrared bathroom fixtures, and the use of recycled building materials among other items.[22][25]

Amenities and use[edit]

The west side of the Civic Center across 1st Street.

The Civic Center was built over three city blocks in downtown.[26] The complex has a total of 168,436 square feet (15,648.2 m2).[12] The complex has two plazas, with the northern plaza designed to create an outdoor amphitheater with seating for 700.[22] Dedicated as the Tom Hughes Civic Center Plaza, the buildings of the Civic Center serve as a backdrop to the amphitheater, and by using Main Street to increase the space, the amphitheater can accommodate crowds of 5,000 people.[16] South Plaza connects the government portions of the complex to the 120 unit residential component of the development to the south.[16] Both plazas have water features, including a fountain in the 24,000-square-foot (2,200 m2) North Plaza.[16][22]

On the ground floor is a Starbucks coffee shop in a 1,600-square-foot (150 m2) space, while the 20,000 square feet (1,900 m2) designed for the library branch remain open for future government use.[8] In the government areas there is a 3,800-square-foot (350 m2) conference center and the city council chambers.[19] This includes a 250-seat auditorium.[22] The Civic Center hosts the seasonal, weekly farmer’s market on Saturdays, and a marketplace on Tuesdays that features various vendors, both utilizing the center’s plaza area.[27] Plans call for an upscale restaurant in a 3,800-square-foot (350 m2) space.[28] City services at the site include the Administration Department,[29] city planning,[30] the office of the city recorder,[31] and the municipal court among others.[32] The Civic Center also houses the office of the mayor[33] and is the site of the twice-monthly city council meetings.[34]


  1. ^ a b Anderson. David R. "Big ideas for Hillsboro", The Oregonian, October 29, 2001.
  2. ^ Anderson, David R. "Imagining downtown", The Oregonian, March 7, 2002.
  3. ^ a b c Basalyga, Stephanie. Good as Gold. Daily Journal of Commerce Magazine, July 2005.
  4. ^ a b c d Fields, K.J. "Center of Attention", Daily Journal of Commerce Magazine, November 2003.
  5. ^ a b c Anderson, David R. "Specht gains contract for Hillsboro Civic Center", The Oregonian, April 3, 2002.
  6. ^ Anderson, David R. "Council, contractor pose Civic Center questions", The Oregonian, March 21, 2002.
  7. ^ "Demolition to kick off work on Hillsboro Civic Center", Portland Business Journal, June 5, 2003.
  8. ^ a b Bermudez, Esmeralda. "Coffee chain’s baristas will fire up espresso machine in Civic Center", The Oregonian, June 28, 2005.
  9. ^ a b c d "Civic Center LEED Rated", Northwest Construction, January 1, 2006.
  10. ^ Bermudez, Esmeralda. Civic Center near finish line. The Oregonian, December 17, 2004.
  11. ^ Boone, Jerry F. "Hillsboro's Civic Center is built for civic life", The Oregonian, July 13, 2005.
  12. ^ a b "Specht Properties Wilsonville city officials have", The Oregonian, February 24, 2005.
  13. ^ Suh, Elizabeth. "Sewer overflows anger residents", The Oregonian, December 6, 2007.
  14. ^ Gordanier, Susan (April 14, 2009). "Tom Hughes honored as plaza takes his name". The Hillsboro Argus. Retrieved 2009-04-15. 
  15. ^ a b Olsen, Dana E. Hillsboro Civic Center. The Oregonian, October 7, 2004.
  16. ^ a b c d City Views: The Hillsboro Civic Center. February 2005. The City of Hillsboro. Retrieved on October 2, 2007.
  17. ^ Gragg, Randy. Sight lines: Hillsboro Civic Center. The Oregonian, April 17, 2005.
  18. ^ Bermudez, Esmeralda. Plan highlights. The Oregonian, November 16, 2006.
  19. ^ a b Olsen, Dana E. Hillsboro Civic Center. The Oregonian, January 27, 2005.
  20. ^ a b Best Public Project-Oregon. Northwest Construction. Retrieved on October 1, 2007.
  21. ^ "Local OR Civic Center to Acquire New Solar System". Renewable Energy Today. July 13, 2005. Retrieved 2008-02-18. [dead link]
  22. ^ a b c d e Hillsboro Civic Center: LEED Gold Certification. GreenerBuildings. Retrieved on September 27, 2007.
  23. ^ a b Hillsboro Civic Center scores LEED gold rating. Daily Journal of Commerce, December 1, 2005.
  24. ^ Hillsboro Civic Center First City Hall in Oregon to be 100 Percent Green Powered. Bonneville Environmental Foundation. Retrieved on September 27, 2007.
  25. ^ Bermudez, Esmeralda. Earth-friendly Hillsboro Civic Center wins gold. The Oregonian, December 6, 2005.
  26. ^ City of Hillsboro Civic Center. SkanskaUSA. Retrieved on September 27, 2007.
  27. ^ What’s Up at the Farmer’s Markets. Hillsboro Argus, July 13, 2007.
  28. ^ Colby, Richard. The Civic Center hungers for an upscale dining option. The Oregonian, June 28, 2007.
  29. ^ Administration. City of Hillsboro. Retrieved on February 19, 2008.
  30. ^ Planning. City of Hillsboro. Retrieved on February 19, 2008.
  31. ^ City REcorder. City of Hillsboro. Retrieved on February 19, 2008.
  32. ^ Municipal Court. City of Hillsboro. Retrieved on February 19, 2008.
  33. ^ Mayor Tom Hughes. City of Hillsboro. Retrieved on February 19, 2008.
  34. ^ Hillsboro City Council Meeting Information. City of Hillsboro. Retrieved on February 19, 2008.

External links[edit]