Proposal for Corvallis Civic Campus presented to community members at open house event


Shivani Jinger

Attendees give their views on different aspects of the project at the Civic Campus Project Open House hosted at Corvallis-Benton County Public Library on Jan. 31.

Zeva Rosenbaum, News Contributor

The proposal for a new civic campus for government operations in Corvallis was presented to the public at an open-house at the Valley Library on Jan. 31. 

Corvallis’ City Manager, Mark Shepard, introduced the project and Ian Gebrich, a partner at the FFA Architecture & Interiors of Portland: the architecture firm signed on to design the campus.  

According to Shepard, the City of Corvallis has not adequately invested in facilities for decades and staff is still working in many buildings intended to be temporary office space, including City Hall, which was bought back in the 1940s. 

Gelbrich explained FFA’s process to the audience, and requested attendees contribute to the interactive displays around the room featuring words and photos that would describe what they would want from the campus.

“We do a lot of municipal work,” Gelbrich said. “It’s a huge part of our portfolio, it’s sort of our bread and butter. We work a lot with your peer communities… because of that, we understand the lack of investment in the facilities you have, and we understand where that is relative to your peers and it’s kind of in tough shape.”

Gelbrich provided examples of FFA’s previous work as well, which can be found on their projects page on their website.

“This really is a once in a lifetime opportunity and work effort where we are looking at shaping how the city functions, at least internally, for decades to come,” Shepard said.

Shepard said one of the goals is to form a better “connection” between city government and the Corvallis community. He said the project is a “big deal” and they want community input so the public facing parts of the complex fit community needs.

“We envision this civic campus as a kind of one-stop-shop,” Shepard explained. “Right now, people have to go to different venues, different venues…hopefully they can get everything (they need) in one place.” 

While funding has not been raised, Shepard said they are currently working on solidifying estimates and prioritization of funds when and if they are secured.  

“I think reinvestment in downtown is really important,” Shepard said. “Just that sense of place…bringing people downtown, all those things are of benefit for the whole community.”

Shepard said it’s difficult to expand or improve on other public services, like public transportation, when city staff is so limited by their facilities and the inefficiency of being spread across different buildings.

“It’s a matter of catching up with lack of investment,” Shepard said. “We are at a place of criticality…we’ve got staff in hallways, in conference rooms, so as the city grows, we can’t add the staff to provide that additional service.”

Gelbrich explained there isn’t a set concept for the design yet; the firm prefers to get community input prior to beginning the official design process, but they do want to leverage the current square footage of City Hall. He said meetings like the open house where they can get community feedback are the most important aspect to moving forward.

“It’s not (FFA’s) building, we recognize that,” Gebrich said. “Representing the values of the community is what’s most important to us…(and) doing everything you can to amplify relationships between residents and staff.”

According to Gelbrich, if there are differences in the vision of the residents and the government, FFA does what they can to balance the needs of both.

“When you have conflicts, whether it’s between residents and staff, or just conflict in general in a process like this, we look for common ground,” Gelbrich said.

Infographics placed around the room explained a proposed preliminary budget of $255 million for various upgrades to city facilities and detailed the facilities that need said updates, such as a law enforcement building, multiple fire stations, public works, administration, and more.

According to these infographics, Corvallis’ city portfolio needs to grow by 77% just to meet current needs and needs to grow even further by 85% to meet needs by 2045.

Infographics and further information are available here.

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