New complex centralizes city offices
Piqua, Ohio, has revitalized a part of its Central Business District by completing construction of the Municipal Government Complex (MGC). The facility is part of “The Loop,” a project that also includes improving streetscapes, historic building exteriors and 13 miles of linear park. The 52,000-square-foot complex has centralized city offices and has made them more accessible for the handicapped.
The MGC, which was completed November 2001, was constructed around the original City Hall. Local officials’ top priority was to maintain the historical integrity of the original structure and to use glass to connect it to two new brick buildings of comparable size.
“The project was designed so that the exterior of the old City Hall was preserved, unique unto itself. However, on the inside, one cannot tell whether he is in the old building or the new,” says Tom Zechman, director of public works for the city.
The MGC now accommodates city offices that previously were housed in four separate buildings: an historic fire department, the 100-year-old City Hall, a one-story bunker-type police department and a modified storefront. “By centralizing the various departments, we can better coordinate and facilitate communication when more than one city department needs to be involved in a request for information,” Mayor David Martin says.
City officials also realized that something had to be done to make the MGC accessible for disabled residents. “[Previously], the old Commission Chambers were located in the second floor of a building with no elevator,” Zechman says.
Accessibility issues were addressed in several ways. The parking lot at the new complex is approximately at the same grade as the first floor, and visitors entering the complex from the rear parking lot never encounter a step, Zechman explains. The MGC also has been equipped with three elevators to make the center more accessible for the handicapped.
Additionally, the utility business office and the income tax department have specially designed low counters. There, disabled persons may sit to transact business, looking eye-to-eye with the clerk across the counter. In the commission chambers, steps on the left side and a ramp on the right provide access to the commissioner’s dais, which is 12 inches above the floor.