The City Hall and Transportation Center project was recognized as an opportunity in urban planning to re-energize the dwindling Third Street corridor in Easton, Pennsylvania. The offices were repositioned to fill in urban “gap-teeth” and welcome visitors from its South end. The building supports City revenue through mixed-use programming, including retail, parking, and the City’s key transportation program.
The building is intended to integrate with the City as a part of its whole and suggest a familiarity and belonging to its place and the historic district. Ground-floor shops welcome passersby and government offices above offer additional eyes on the street while promising a literal transparency of government. The entry was designed to recreate the experience of classical circulation.
One enters through a sculptural puncture into an atrium with grand stairway and translucent elevators that display vertical conveyance; in referencing Easton’s history of transporting goods, we are showcasing conveyance of people, ideas, and political and social discourse. The building does not pretend any historicism through literal grafting of surrounding styles. Although, its tectonics and material craft suggest motifs of the past.
Locally fabricated, pre-cast concrete panels provide structure and envelope, and are textured in board-form patterning and beaded joints reminiscent of the neighborhood’s milled limestone facades. Public spaces are clad in Pennsylvania cherry patterned to resemble the shingled bark longhouses of the Native American Lenape who settled at the confluence of the Delaware and Lehigh rivers. A shingled glass canopy above the entry symbolizes the three tributaries of Easton: the Delaware, Lehigh, and Bushkill. When it rains, this canopy becomes a stage for running water, which overlays the subsequent view upwards to a sculptural steel railing and three-story lobby, evoking Easton’s local waterfalls. The building serves as Easton’s public gateway and is a welcoming symbol for the city’s future.
AIA Contracts used: A132-Owner/Contractor-CMa edition and C132-Owner/CMa.