Building Buda: The New Municipal Complex
Public buildings have long held an important role in a city’s downtown. From the Romanesque courthouses of the past to libraries of the future, public buildings represent the pinnacle of the communities that they serve. They are a symbol of democracy, hope, peace, and order. They are a place designed for all and belong to every citizen.
Buda city leaders began discussing the need for larger city facilities to better serve the growing population during community discussions related to the development of the City’s long-range 2030 Comprehensive Plan. The plan highlighted the need for an expanded library, public meeting spaces, and a police station to serve the newly formed Buda Police Department, spaces that the community could take pride in.”
In 2014, the Buda Bond Advisory Committee was created to evaluate the possibility of issuing bonds to fund facility, transportation, drainage, and park improvements. In November 2014, the citizens of Buda approved the City’s first ever General Obligation. Included in this were funds to construct a new 55,000 square foot city hall and library and a 15,000 square foot public safety building.
A site near downtown Buda was selected and construction broke ground in the fall of 2016. Public Works crews saved valuable taxpayer dollars by installing site drainage improvements. A 260 year old live oak tree was relocated on the property in order to make way for the new public safety building.
Architect firm Page and general contractor JE Dunn were selected to lead the project design and construction.
“At our community outreach meeting we heard a lot of requests for these public meeting spaces. There are so many different organizations that needed a place to meet,” said Ginny Chilton, Page Project Manager. “We were excited to allow that to shape the program for community rooms, meeting rooms and classrooms. That kind of involvement and influence really built a program that supports the future growth of a strong community in Buda.”
“With the steering committee and with Page we determined that we wanted to build something of our era,” said Talmadge Smith, Page Design. “Buda is on the cusp of the regional growth of Austin, but they want to retain their own unique identity. This building really embodies both. It’s forward looking, but it honors the past.”
“We were hired right after the architects were brought on board which was nice that we could work with them through the different stages of schematic design, design development and then construction documents,” said JE Dunn Construction Project Manager Mark Christopher. “Something that is unique about this project, there is really no typical room or typical shape in this building. It is all unique being for the most part one level. All pieces of the building coming together was unique.”
City Project Manager Ray Creswell oversaw construction of the facility and was onsite daily to ensure construction was completed correctly and on time.
“This project was a real blessing. Not only being a part of and being a resident of Buda, but also just being able to see this whole project come together from design to construction,” said Creswell.
Creswell says there is also a few unique items the public can’t see.
“There is a beam in each of the buildings (City Hall and Public Safety Building) that were signed by staff and council. Those will be here forever with the signatures on them.”
In October 2017, JE Dunn completed construction of the Public Safety Building. The 15,000 square foot facility includes office space with room to grow for the Buda Police Department, a community training room, a garage for working on vehicles and processing large items, state of the art technology, and a gym space to help officers stay healthy to better perform their duties.
“I think having dedicated spaces for the different divisions is very helpful,” said Buda PD Chief Bo Kidd. “Individual detectives have their own offices. We also have a meeting space and training room where we can now host training for other area law enforcement. These are things we didn’t have before that sure make life a lot easier. We’re capable of providing additional services that we couldn’t before. In the near future we plan on taking permitting for alarms and move in animal control registration here.”
In April 2018, JE Dunn completed construction of the 55,000 square foot City Hall and Library. The facility stands as a symbol of Buda’s future with ties to its heritage. The facility includes over 25,000 square feet of library and public space. The facility boasts a state of the art emergency operations center and rooms available for the public to utilize for meetings of home owners associations and other civic organizations.
The new Library includes spaces dedicated for youth, teens, and adults; expanded technology spaces; a Maker’s Lab and Craft Room, along with study and quiet reading rooms. The reading garden provides a quiet space under heritage trees to enjoy a cup of coffee and the latest great novel.
“I think the thing that I was most happy to find once this building was built, is you walk in and it still feels like a library. It still feels like a community library. For the staff that is important. We didn’t want to walk in and it feel like a store or a warehouse,” said Melinda Hodges, Library Director.
“When an outsider or someone visiting Buda comes into a building like this, they will look at it and think these people really know what they are doing, “said City Manager Kenneth Williams. “It gives us a sense of achievement being able to build such a structure here. The new facility will have a tremendous impact on the City of Buda, well into the future. With this building, we built it to accommodate growth for the next 25 to 30 years. We should be able to handle any growth that the city may have.”
“When you look at square footage, the majority of square footage is devoted to the public which is really cool,” said Mayor George Haehn. “The biggest thing I think is we have so much meeting space here and the opportunity for citizens to be able to sit down with each other and discuss issues.”
“There are a lot of benefits to the citizens in negotiations the city does with vendors and as we look for sponsorships for the park. It gives an aura of being established and having a nice welcoming presence,” said Council Member Evan Ture. “I think the city buildings really add a lot to that. A city does well if it builds a structure for which grow can occur well.”
“In designing this building we wanted to look as far down stream as we could knowing that we need to do it right the first time,” said Former Mayor and Council Member Bobby Lane. “This building was designed with flexible space and hard walled offices. That way leadership would have their offices, but yet staff would have flexible space to move people around and reorganize at minimum cost without having to tear down walls and put up walls. With the old building we were landlocked where we were. We had no room to expand. This building gave us beautiful scenery and we designed it to bring the outside in with the warmth of the wood.”
“If I was an investor and I’m trying to decide which City I want to invest in and I walk into this building, I would think that Buda has it together and is ready for the future,” said Council Member Paul Daugereau. “I love the architecture both inside and outside. It’s just a grand wonderful building and I’m proud to be part of it.”
“They sort of built organically to fit in with the environment here,” said Council Member David Nuckles. “In keeping that small town feel, you don’t feel like this is a giant building when you’re driving by it. When you come inside it seems a lot bigger than it looks on the outside. I think the City of Buda is doing a great job of maintaining the small town feel, but yet we’re continuing to provide additional services and more things for the citizens here in Buda that we need.”
“There is no doubt having unified staff together is going to serve efficiency and that relates back down to the citizens themselves,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Wiley Hopkins. “This building is designed to be very public friendly. When I looked at the building originally, it was kind of overwhelming. This is a significant change and it’s very attractive and function from my perspective.”
“The Government Complex and Library have been a collaborative effort of city leaders both past and present,” said Former Mayor Todd Ruge. “Input from city staff was vital in shaping the its final outcome. Of course none of this would have been possible without the wisdom and trust of the taxpayers of Buda. I believe everyone involved in this project should be proud of what was accomplished in such a short time period.”
“It is just a beautiful building,” said Former Council Member Eileen Altmiller. “It’s a real investment by the community in the future of the City. All I can do is say how grateful I am to the people who had the vision, the people on the steering committee, the design committee, the architects, the value engineers and the people who built it. It is a beautiful and striking building and a real asset to our community.”