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Ballwin eyes efficiency in newly-planned municipal building

By: Jim Erickson

Anyone who thinks Ballwin officials are using opulent and massive as key adjectives to describe the newly-planned city administration building would have been disabused of that thought at the Sept. 11 Board of Aldermen meeting.

During the session, architect Chris Chiodini reviewed space needs and possible floor plans, showed examples of what the building would look like and how it could be situated on the site located in the northeast corner of Vlasis Park.

Among other things, Chiodini, from Chiodini Architects, presented illustrations depicting:

  • An office building some 4,000 square feet smaller than the structure the city currently occupies at Manchester Road and Seven Trails Drive.
  • A structure that includes features such as public restrooms, a training room and more space for meetings and collaboration among city employees and others involved in city-related business. There are no public restrooms or a room designed and equipped for training needs in Ballwin’s current building. Similarly, spaces for conferences and collaborative efforts are far fewer in today’s city hall, even though such areas are the trend in contemporary office design.
  • The plans also showed how available spaces could be converted for additional offices and how the proposed structure could be expanded should those needs arise later.

So, how does the city get more into less space? By making individual offices considerably smaller and by using more up-to-date office furnishings and systems that take up less room.

“The new building isn’t designed to make a statement, other than one saying our goal is to make the best possible use of taxpayer dollars,” said Eric Hanson, city administrator, whose own office will be 37 percent smaller in square footage than the one he now occupies.

Hanson said he and other city officials visited office furnishing providers and recently completed office locations to see how today’s efficiency-oriented concepts work in actual practice.

“All of us were very impressed with what we saw,” he noted.

Ballwin aldermen spent the most time discussing and asking questions about the three floor plans Chiodini presented for a one-story building occupying 8,570 square feet. Square footage of the current city building is 12,646.

No final decisions were made, but the architectural firm will use discussion points and preferences to refine the floor plans, building elevations, siting of the property and other details for a later, more final review.

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