Community gets a look at municipal campus

Illustration courtesy of Leo A. Daly
Illustration courtesy of Leo A. Daly


Understated design centers on city’s nature-rich heritage


Clint Riese
News Editor

Simple, practical and durable. Those are the concepts guiding the architects at work on the design of Forest Lake’s public safety and city hall building.

The team from Leo A. Daly has a plate full of details to fine-tune before a scheduled fall groundbreaking for the approximately $13 million municipal facility, but its general layout and look was unveiled at an open house Monday night.

Fire Chief Gary Sigfrinius points out details on the public safety/city hall building blueprints presented Monday night. (Photo by Clint Riese)
Fire Chief Gary Sigfrinius points out details on the public safety/city hall building blueprints presented Monday night. (Photo by Clint Riese)

The exterior renderings, interior finishes and blueprints presented were shaped by two other public input meetings, a community survey completed by 98 residents and the architect team’s own impressions of the city’s feel.

These factors translate into plans for a structure that will be understated in design, simple to navigate and built to last, said Leo A. Daly architect Cindy McCleary.

Inside and out, design themes will play on the city’s name by invoking images of nature.

The exterior plans include brown tones and a front entrance highlighted by a sweeping canopy and wooden pillars. The canopy concept is meant to convey a front-porch feel, McCleary said.


Name Game

Those attending Monday’s open house were asked to provide input on a formal name for the municipal campus. The following are being considered, though write-in suggestions were encouraged: Trailside Plaza, Forest Lake Gardens, Trailside Commons, Hardwood Creek Commons, Forest Lake City Center, Forest Lake Commons. Feedback on the name can be given via the city’s website,

The interior focal point will be the main concourse connecting the city hall, fire department and police department. Plans call for beach-colored flooring. Tiles with flat and high-gloss finishes will be interspersed so as to glisten like water.

The council chambers will feature blue carpeting, an accent wall textured to look like aged wood and glass panels rippled to represent prairie grass. Other interior finishes will be of neutral tones and consist of highly durable material.

“We’ve got a combination of materials here, intentionally very quiet – not in-your-face, urban aesthetics – that we think will stand the test of time,” McCleary said.

One of the main points of public input the architects heard was the desire to maximize areas so as to limit project size, and therefore cost. Square footage, originally set around 77,000, has been trimmed to 65,000.

Another consistent message was that the structure should serve the community, not just the city staff. A community room is now a focal point. It will be located just up the stairs from the main entrance and will connect with a small, rooftop terrace.

“A couple things that came out of this project that are slightly different than what we’ve seen in others is a real desire to not only share space, like community rooms and break rooms and that type of thing, but to make it sort of an integral part of the community experience as well,” McCleary said.

The next few months will seem slow from the public’s perspective, McCleary said, but they will be busy for the architects. By June 10, the “big-picture” half will be done and they will dive into details such as doors and alarm systems.

Monday’s open house was the last of three such events. The project’s next step is a design development presentation at the joint meeting of the City Council and Economic Development Authority on June 10.