Newport Beach Civic Center and Park

Newport Beach, California

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Using the central organizing principles of governmental transparency, democracy, clarity and sustainability, BCJ worked with the City to develop a new Civic Center, creating what Council Member Ed Selich hailed as a ‘new civic vision’ for the City. A new city hall, library addition and new garage bound a new public outdoor space, the city’s ‘civic green.’ This civic core opens onto a new 17-acre park that includes a restored wetland.

The Nature of Place

The Civic Center was designed to be understood at the scale and speed of the car, while providing a satisfying sense of place for users who come to the city hall, library, and park. The project is inspired by its Southern California beachside location, reflected in the light and airy palette, the many subtle nautical references, and the numerous outdoor spaces around the city hall and library made possible by the almost-always sunny, pleasant climate. The site features a series of native and drought tolerant landscape settings encompassing a rehabilitated wetland, children’s and picnic areas, a new dog park, and two belvederes with commanding views of the Pacific Ocean. The two site parcels are traversed by a web of walking trails and connected with a new pedestrian bridge.

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Photo credit: David Wakely

The Nature of People

All staff, whether in an enclosed office or at a workstation, enjoy daylight and views. The long, narrow building allows for literal and figurative transparency. Not only can one see through the building at any point, but all staff are visible, as well. Reception areas, conference rooms, teaming areas, and other common areas ring the perimeter of the city hall, allowing all to enjoy the best light and views. Underfloor air, operable windows, automated clerestory windows, and daylight harvesting, in addition to being energy efficient, provide great spaces for people to work.

In the new city hall, the relationship of the staff and users has changed with the staff coming to the user rather the user having to go looking for the staff. At the permit center, those seeking review can sit side-by-side with staff, rather than stand opposite at a counter.

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Photo credit: Nic Lehoux

The Nature of Materials

A light and elegant steel frame reflects the city hall’s sunny, ocean-side location. Stone cladding provides civic gravity at the important public spaces of the council chamber and the community room. Over head, undulating wood ceilings evoke the maritime location and cast a warm glow on the spaces below. Color is used at key points, with bright yellow marking areas of circulation, and varying shades of green and blue providing a calm work environment in the city hall, as well as quiet places of study in the library addition.

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Photo credit: Nic Lehoux

Project Data

Newport Beach, California
2008 – 2013
City of Newport Beach, California
117,000 sf


Gold Medal
Special Mention, Architecture + Engineering
National Honor Award for Interiors
Citation Award
Architectural Engineering Project of the Year
Sustainable Engineering Project of the Year
National Honor Award for Interiors
Orange County Section Award for Outstanding Urban Design
1st Place, Commercial Buildings – New Category
Award of Excellence, New Construction Category
IDEAS National Honor Award
Project of the Year
Members Choice Award
Honor Award for Design