601 High St, Penrith, 2750
Postal Address: P.O. Box 60, Penrith 2751
Telephone: (02) 4732 7777 Fax: (02) 4732 7958
The planning for Council’s new Civic Centre and Central Library goes back many years and takes in a period which has seen the city grow to become the thriving centre it is today. Penrith City Council operations have similarly grown to the extent that its administrative operations had outgrown the five separate buildings it had occupied. It was this recognition that prompted the decision to go ahead with the Civic Centre project.
This decision was made in 1988 when a design brief for the construction of the centre was completed. In 1989 Council proceeded to select an architect for the design of the project and in early 1990 a project architect was appointed. In 1991 the successful tenderer for construction of the Centre was selected and construction commenced in November 1991.
The site of Council’s new Civic Centre and Central Library is a key one in the City of Penrith with three main road frontages – Castlereagh Road, Great Western Highway and Jane Street. The complete precinct is unique, in that it links the different functions of administration, culture and recreation all on the one site that borders the Penrith Plaza shopping complex. As such the precinct offers the potential for people to move efficiently between all of these functions and to carry out a number of components of their daily business or recreation.
Council has realised for some time that its growing regional significance required an “appropriate presence”. The new Civic Centre and Central Library has provided the City of Penrith with a landmark building that is both unique and distinctive.
The building has a strong presence and is bold and adventurous in its design. A key feature of the design of the building is that it is most inviting and accessible to the public, making excellent use of natural light. Customers enter the building directly underneath a central atrium that projects natural light onto the enquiries counter giving visitors a feeling of being welcomed into the heart of the building.
The building design is also very functional featuring excellent public accessibility, usability, circulation and adaptability of internal spaces.
The building also incorporates a building maintenance system that monitors and controls the electrical, air conditioning and security systems providing the potential for substantial cost savings over time.
The construction format of the building is essentially traditional with a basement, ground floor, first floor and second floor consisting of concrete columns and slabs, masonry walls and concrete/steel roofing systems.
When this project was first conceived it was immediately apparent that the scale and complexity of the project would exceed anything Council had previously undertaken. Council realised it would be essential to avoid the normal adversarial approach inherent in “traditional” construction contracts for large and complex projects.
Following industry research it became apparent that there was a track record of success utilising a form of construction administration based on a co-operative team approach. The form of project finally used encompassed the concept of guaranteed time and cost with package documentation that required close co-operation and support from the key players. The building was designed by noted architect Feiko Bouman and built by John Holland Constructions, with all parties sharing a common vision for the outcome.
There was a commitment to excellence on the project that extended through to the individual trades working on the project. Suggestions for improvements in both construction efficiency and quality of workmanship were advanced and utilised on an unprecedented scale. The end result was a project that has delivered a building of excellence within time and budget constraints.
Following the move to the new Civic Centre and Central Library all of Council’s administrative operations are now housed under the one roof. This provides Council with the opportunity to maximise the efficiency of its operations.
It also afforded Council the opportunity to reinforce its Quality Customer Service programme, committing Council to providing the highest quality service to its customers.
A key feature of the new Civic Centre is the new centralised counter operation that is manned by a small number of multi-skilled staff who are able to attend to all matters pertaining to Council. This new “One-Stop Shop” philosophy enables customers to transact all of their Council business from rate payments to building and development applications at the one counter. The counter team is backed up by a group of duty professionals who are readily available for complex specialist enquiries.
At the heart of the new Civic Centre is an impressive Council Chamber where Council meetings are conducted. The Chambers, like the rest of the building, makes good use of natural light and has a seating capacity of 120. Access to the Chamber is via the lifts in the ground floor foyer or the ramps on either side of the main entrance.
The administrative offices are arranged on two levels around the central foyer area and follow the building’s outer perimeter. A large function room with a capacity to seat 320 patrons is situated on the second floor. It is serviced by a fully equipped kitchen.
The new Civic Centre has given Council the opportunity to provide the level of customer service that is expected and meet the needs of the citizens for many years to come.
A major feature of Council’s Civic Centre is the new Central Library which takes up approximately one third of the building and covers an area of some 3,000 square metres. This much needed relocation represents a move from an out of date facility to one which will be servicing Penrith well into the 21st century.
The new Central Library will bring major benefits to residents and has the potential to become a major educational facility of regional significance. This facility has brought quality library and information services of the highest calibre to western Sydney.
The new library incorporates all the latest in library technology. One feature is the high-tech upgrade given to the lending of books. All books and membership cards now have barcodes on them which allow borrowers to check out books themselves by passing them over a supermarket style scanner.
The availability of two seminar rooms and a 100 seat theatrette further enhances the library’s role in the community. They will enable the library to be involved in a variety of educational activities.
The library has also introduced another new concept, a ‘Technical Library” which has been set up to support Council’s internal operations. This library has consolidated all of Council’s technical manuals and publications into one area providing an excellent research centre for Council staff, elected representatives and the general public.
Other key features of the new library include an enhanced reference and information service and an expanded local area section. The library provides a major educational resource that makes available locally, an extensive range of quality resources which are oriented towards general and personal education needs.