Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012 | 4 p.m.
New Las Vegas City Hall
Mayor Carolyn Goodman made a sweeping gesture with her hand, pointing out the window of her new seventh-story office in the new Las Vegas City Hall.
"This is our beautiful city, and our mountain ranges and the feeling of everything pulling together through the view that's here," Goodman told reporters Thursday.
Like the majestic view, the new City Hall makes its own "statement" about Las Vegas, she said.
"When people come into our city to see if they want to move here or invest here, they see that we are a place that garners dignity and pride and they want to be part of it," she said.
While construction workers continued doing finishing work, Goodman had just led about a dozen journalists through a tour of the glassy, futuristic-looking new City Hall building, 495 Main St.
Goodman's desk was still in pieces on the floor of her new southwest corner office. But she was planning ahead, looking out at other recent projects the City Council has pushed to help revitalize downtown.
She looked to the west to the World Market Center and the new Smith Center for the Performing Arts. She also pointed out the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. She motioned toward the undeveloped area to the northwest on the city's 61-acre Symphony Park.
"With every ounce of strength I'm going to bring in the arena that's going to go down there," she said, mentioning the often-discussed downtown professional sports arena.
Goodman pointed at the Regional Transportation Center and the Clark County Government Center to the south. And noted that a block to the east is the Regional Justice Center.
"What it's become now is a government corridor, where everything is very close," Goodman said. "It's very exciting."
The excitement has been building for city staff, as they prepare to begin moving into the new structure this weekend.
City departments will be moving for the rest of the month out of the 270,000-square-foot City Hall building at 400 Stewart, which will be renovated over the next year and eventually become the corporate campus for Zappos.com.
The city will have an official grand opening ceremony at 6 p.m. on March 5.
The new 310,000-square-foot, $185 million building was developed by Forest City and is being paid for by bonds, including federal Build America Bonds. A public parking garage is located to the west at 500 Main St.
The construction over the last two years generated a little more than 1,900 jobs, according to officials.
The mayor said she understood that some people might be skeptical about the city spending money on a new building during a recession.
"But I also learned a lesson a long time ago — in order to make money, you have to spend money," she said. "So all the savings that are going to be coming back to this city, through this construction, and what's going on at the old City Hall, is going to do nothing but bring in more business and more jobs."
Thursday's media tour started on the front steps of the new building, with an explanation about how the environmentally friendly building features 33 "solar trees."
The silvery tree-like structures not only provide shade, but also about 160,000 kilowatt hours of power annually, said Tom Perrigo, the city's chief sustainability officer.
"Conservatively, we think that will generate about 5 to 7 percent of the building's total needs, although it's probably going to be a little bit more," Perrigo said.
The panels are double sided — they generate power by sunlight hitting them from the top and from reflected light hitting them from underneath, he said.
There's also a 90-kilowatt solar array on the roof, he said. That array will also generate about 160,000 kilowatts of power annually. Combined, the solar trees and roof array will generate more than 10 percent of the energy needed for the building, he said.
"We're projecting total energy costs will be around $300,000 annually," he said. That's less than half of the $650,000 to $750,000 energy costs used at the old City Hall, he said.
David Phillips, a Forest City vice president who is the company's project manager for the building, said architect Howard Elkus' design represents "the past, present and future of Las Vegas."
The City Council chambers have undulating walls that represent the springs that first lured settlers here.
The front face of the building features vertical glass fins, which suggest water flowing over the Hoover Dam, creating the power of today, he said.
"They're also back-lit with LED lights that we have programmed for the (March 6) dedication," he said.
The future is represented by the solar trees and the diagonal sun rays that emanate from the top east corner of the building's front, Phillips said.
Phillips said as visitors enter the main lobby, they will see metal panel systems that undulate, providing a sense of water flowing through the main lobby and also in the City Council Chambers behind the main dais.
One of the features of the main foyer is the grand staircase. It has a glass block design with three-eighths inch thick laminated glass that is hand chipped and sandblasted. All 13 pieces weigh 38,000 pounds, so the staircase was built with major structural support. LED lights behind the glass turn on in waves to create a flowing waterfall lighting effect, representing the flow of energy, Phillips said.
Italian marble covers the floor and the 52-foot walls of the foyer were designed to create something of a stone canyon effect. The marble on the walls is only one-fourth of an inch thick, Phillips said. The flooring is 1.5 inches thick, he said.
Phillips said a large public art piece will go in the foyer. And another will go on the second floor.
"The building itself will be a palette for future artwork," said Michael Vlaovich, project manager for the city.
Vlaovich said that, along with the public art, there will be touchscreen panels in the foyer and on the second floor that will allow visitors to transact business using them, such as pay bills.
There will also be a touchscreen panel available to see the energy usage of the building, as well as other information about the city. "The public can come in at any time and see how much power we're getting at any time from our solar arrays," he said. He said they will keep a record of energy consumption.
David Riggleman, the city's communications director, said much of the building is designed as functional office space for city departments.
One of the big differences between the new and the old city halls, is that in the current one, two-thirds of the employees work in offices, while one-third work in cubicles.
"In this building, it will be the opposite, so we have more flexibility. It's more efficient," Riggleman said.
Vlaovich said the city saved about $2 million by reusing furniture from the old City Hall.
Vlaovich said employees would use electric card access to get to non-public areas of the building.
There will be metal detectors for those coming and going to the City Council meetings. But Goodman said she wanted the public to feel like the building was made to be open and to allow citizens to freely come and go.
"This is going to be an inviting, open place for our citizens and our families," she said.