The Silicon Valley Voice

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Sunnyvale Celebrates New Civic Center

Last year, Sunnyvale opened its new city hall, a stunning LEED Platinum, Net Zero carbon building — the first in the U.S. — that was named one of the Business Journal’s 2022 Structures honorees for civic/public buildings.

On April 20, Sunnyvale cut the ribbon on phase 2 of its new civic center: a six-acre park on the site of its former city hall buildings. The new park includes an intimate amphitheater for outdoor performances, established redwood and other heritage trees, as well as 100 (net) new trees.

Blessed by a warm, sunny day, the celebration featured music and entertainment, plenty of activities for kids and food trucks offering Silicon Valley’s rich menu of ethnic specialties. Santa Clara County Supervisor Otto Lee and Congressman Ro Khanna and State Senator Aisha Wahab honored the city with proclamations.


“It’s an iconic example of the best of Silicon Valley,” said Sunnyvale mayor Larry Klein. “For several years, the city council shaped a bold new vision, and the project team had a tall order.  They truly brought our vision to life. This represents the city goals of sustainability and leadership.”

Klein took pains to honor all the city officials and employees — past and present — who contributed to the project.

For city manager Kent Steffens, the day was the crowning moment of a 40-year career in public service, 13 of which he served in Sunnyvale. Steffens was responsible for developing and initiating the Civic Center Modernization master plan.

“Opening a new city hall is a rare experience, and I’m honored to be here,” said Steffens, who worked on the project since 2015 and will be retiring this year.

He gave special [notice] to Sunnyvale resident Margaret Lawson, “who told us ‘Sunnyvale needs a new city hall’ and showed up at every meeting and workshop.”

“It’s truly mission accomplished,” he said.

Saturday’s celebration was almost a decade in the making and, like any ambitious undertaking, wasn’t without challenges.

One of the biggest challenges was the COVID pandemic, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

“We put out the bid for the building in May of 2020, at the beginning of COVID,” said Mayor Klein. “This meant a lot of the construction teams were not as busy, and it was actually beneficial for the bids that we had for the final product. So, it worked out well from that standpoint.”

The final design showcases the best of council collaboration and decision-making, says Klein.

“There were different visions, and different council members had different ideas of what this building should look like. There were at least one or two council members [who thought] we should just renovate the old city hall. Ultimately, the cost difference wasn’t that dramatic.

“But what we ended up with when we built up four stories,” he continued, “and then tore down the old city hall, the building annex, the portable buildings and a few other small buildings is the six acres of open space that we’re doing a ribbon cutting on today.”

Sunnyale’s new civic center is at 456 W Olive Ave. in Sunnyvale, and it’s open to the public during business hours.


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