by Donna Draney
The City Center building joined the Old Town area of Boulder City in 1998. It has a fun background story of how it came to be.
We built our home in Boulder City in 1990 and were commuting back and forth to our Burbank based business. By 1996 we decided to make this our full time home knowing it would be an excellent place to raise our son Ryan, who was then 7 years old. We were looking to open a satellite office in Boulder City so we might be able to work remotely a couple of days a week. We enjoyed the community feeling of the Old Town area but there were no office spaces available.
In researching our options, the nicest location in the Old Town area was a lot that was owned by nine ladies in town who had purchased it to avoid a business opening that they didn’t feel was appropriate to the area. The ladies were now open to selling the lot but wanted to know what was going to be built first. After satisfying their concerns that we too wanted a beautiful building with a historic feeling, we started the planning process.
While the lot was empty when we bought it, we have heard that in the early days it had previously been the home of an auto mechanic’s shop, and then the town fire department. The story we heard was that the fire department caught fire while the firemen were attending to another fire.
Next we engaged Alan Stromberg as the architect. His insight into the historic touches that are unique to Boulder City created the building we have today. The Old Town area was originally designed to be a walking town with arches covering the sidewalks to keep the shoppers shaded. Over time, the arch covered walkways were disappearing as air conditioning became a part of commercial stores and the open display windows became more important to shop owners. We wanted to keep consistent with the historic city design but found that the current building codes called for building set-backs that would have required us to put the parking lot in front of the building. Through much negotiation and the wisdom of the City Council, we were able to build the City Center building and retain the historic character, and locate the parking in the back.
Alan Stromberg designed the building so that it incorporated several of the touches of historic buildings from around town. The design and size of the arches were copied from the Bureau of Reclamation building on the hill that originally housed the dormitories for the dam workers. The cupolas were influenced by the old Water Filtration Plant. The brick herringbone design accenting the building is reminiscent of the brick herringbone frieze on the City Hall building which was originally the town’s schoolhouse. The lighting fixtures were also chosen to complete the feeling of the era.
While the building design had elements of the historic era, the construction material was state of the art. We chose to build the building with Inner Grid, which is a material composed of concrete and styrofoam that is assembled and filled with concrete, resulting in an insulation factor of R40+, reducing the need for air conditioning during the hot summer days.