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Civic Center Modernization Project

The Sunnyvale Civic Center, located at the corner of El Camino Real and Mathilda Avenue, is home to the City’s primary administrative facilities (City Hall), Library, and Department of Public Safety Headquarters.

As the population of Sunnyvale has grown, so has the demand for City services and accordingly, the City's office space needs. However, over many years, facilities at the Civic Center have become dated and inefficient. Civic Center buildings range in age between 30 and 60 years old.

In early 2015, the City began an extensive community engagement process to evaluate how facilities at the Civic Center could be renovated or replaced. Through this process, the City developed a Needs Assessment, Vision Statement and Success Criteria for the project that are intended to guide further planning efforts.

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Civic Center Master Planning Contract Awarded
On May 23, 2017, City Council awarded a contract for Civic Center master planning services to SmithGroup JJR of San Francisco. Master planning is the next step in the Civic Center Modernization Project. Developing a Master Plan will build on the community outreach process and direction the Council has provided to date, and create a long-term plan for the Civic Center Campus.

More evaluation is needed to make key decisions on building siting, architectural style, parking solutions, site circulation, open space and sustainable features to be included in the project.

The master planning process will include numerous opportunities for community input. Based on the approved schedule, the Master Plan will be completed in September of 2018.
May 23, 2017 Report to City Council
Presentation to City Council

City Council Approves Master Plan Scope of Work
On October 25, 2016, City Council provided direction that prepares the Civic Center project to proceed with a campus-wide Master Plan that will be prepared in 2017. City Council decided that NOVA Workforce Service would remain at the Civic Center and continue to lease space from the City after their current facility in the Sunnyvale Office Center is demolished.

Two options are still being considered for NOVA facilities: 1) renovate the City Hall Annex building, or 2) include NOVA as part of the new City Hall building. Council also approved the draft scope of services for master planning efforts. It defines key pieces of information to be developed for Council decision-making that will lead to adoption of a final Civic Center Master Plan to guide phased implementation of the project.
Oct. 25, 2016 Report to City Council
Oct. 25, 2016 Presentation to City Council

Community Survey Results
In April 2016, a community survey of registered Sunnyvale voters was conducted to test support levels for a bond measure to fund Civic Center improvements. Results of the survey were presented to City Council in May. Support levels were below the two-thirds majority needed to pass a bond measure, but a clear majority of those surveyed favored moving ahead with a Civic Center Project. In May 2016, Council decided to move ahead with the Civic Center as a phased project. The first phase will be designed to address the most urgent needs at the Civic Center, using funding from existing City assets. More details are provided below:
May 17, 2016 Report to City Council
Presentation to City Council

Development of Civic Center Land Use Prototypes
Development of prototypes started with workshops that allowed community members to roll up their sleeves and develop conceptual land-use scenarios and test ideas. Scenarios that were evaluated included renovating and adding on to existing buildings or replacing them; testing how the location and type of parking facilities (e.g. underground, structured, or surface lots) would affect the overall site plan; and even changing site circulation, with many teams eliminating Olive Avenue (which currently bisects the campus).
Civic Center Land Use Prototypes


Sunnyvale has started an exciting process to re-imagine the Civic Center, located at the corner of El Camino Real and Mathilda Avenue.

The preparation of a Master Plan for the Civic Center has begun and is scheduled to be completed by September 2018. Community input will be gathered throughout the master planning process. The Master Plan Schedule shows the environmental review process and outreach activities.
View the Master Plan Schedule

Key work products to be developed as part of the Master Plan include the following:

  • Site Plan. Overall site plan for the Civic Center Campus showing the placement of buildings for all project phases, primary open space features and parking solutions. Graphics to depict the campus at the completion of phase 1 and at completion of all phases, including a digital model, are included.
  • New City Hall Architecture. Two architectural concepts will be developed for a new City Hall building, presented for input by the community and Planning Commission, and refined for final selection of a concept by the City Council.
  • City Hall Annex Building Renovation Option. An assessment of the City Hall Annex building will be completed to evaluate existing structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and roofing systems. Results of the evaluation will be presented to Council to determine if the City Hall Annex should be renovated for NOVA or if space for NOVA should be included in the New City Hall building.
  • Floor Plans. Floor plans will be developed for the new City Hall building, City Hall Annex building (if selected for renovation), and for a Public Safety building addition and selective interior remodel. The development of floor plans will ensure project goals are being met such as: creating a welcoming environment, improved customer service, better staff efficiency, and added meeting spaces that are accessible to the community. Floor plans will also be used to finalize building sizes and update cost estimates.
  • Circulation Study. Circulation for bikes, pedestrians and autos will be planned, including looking at options to keep, reconfigure, close portions of West Olive Avenue and All America Way.
  • Sustainable Design Features. Sustainable design features will be evaluated and recommended for buildings and site improvements. LEED check lists will be created to identify features needed to meet LEED Platinum for the New City Hall building.
  • Community Outreach. Community outreach activities are included throughout the master planning process and documented in the project schedule. Outreach activities will include focus groups, numerous reviews by City commissions (Planning Commission, Sustainability Commission, Board of Library Trustees, Parks and Recreation Commission, Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission), a community-wide workshop, pop-up events, Open City Hall surveys, community newsletter articles, and regular updates to the project website.
  • Environmental Review. Preparation of a Program EIR covering all phases of the Master Plan will be developed and circulated for public review.
  • Land Survey. A land survey will be completed to identify the location of major utilities, property lines, easements, contours and other site features. A tree location and condition assessment has already been completed for the campus.
  • Construction Sequencing Plan. A construction sequencing plan will be prepared to evaluate whether existing buildings can remain occupied during construction of phase 1 improvements or if temporary space will be needed to meet service delivery needs.
  • Cost Estimates. Preliminary cost estimates will be prepared for all phase 1 improvements.
  • Master Plan Report. A final report including illustrations will be prepared to document Council direction for all phases for the Civic Center Modernization Project.




2015 Community Outreach Process Results
View the Community Engagement Plan

Civic Center Final Project Report (15 MB)

Focus Group Summaries

Defining Success for the Civic Center Project
In May 2015, the City Council approved a draft Vision Statement, Success Criteria and Needs Assessment. After receiving public input, City Council finalized them.
Vision Statement
Success Criteria
Needs Assessment

Workshop 3: Site Planning Design Charrette 10-3-15
The third workshop provided an opportunity to consider different site alternatives. After space needs were established, different building and site configurations were evaluated.
For example:
How much site area would be available for new uses if City Hall were a two or three story building rather than one story?
Should the plan include underground or structured parking and how much will that cost?
Can open, green areas be combined and how should they be used?
Workshop #3 Community Site Planning Design Charrette

All Commission Workshop: Site Planning Design Charrette 8-16-15
City-appointed Board and Commission members formed teams and completed the same exercises as described in Workshop #3 above. They developed Conceptual land use plans.
All Commission Workshop Site Planning Design Charrette

Workshop 2: Land Use Options & Space Needs 7-25-15
The project developed a needs assessment for the major facilities at the 26-acre Civic Center including the Library, City Hall, and Public Safety Headquarters. It considered how City services are delivered and looked for opportunities to make improvements. The community helped define potential uses for the site and weighed in with their opinion on how space for the community is included in the plan.

Workshop 1: Vision and Success Criteria 4-25-15
The first community workshop was designed to create a vision for a more modern Civic Center. The vision will help guide the development of land use alternatives and site plans as the project continues. Success criteria were established that will be used to evaluate different alternatives once they are developed. Some possible examples included more usable open space, green building features, tree preservation, and neighborhood compatibility.
Workshop #1 Meeting Minutes and Public Comments Part 1
Workshop #1 Public Comments Part 2


During a strategic planning session on September 2, 2014, the City Council discussed the serious need to either renovate or replace the facilities and gave direction for City staff to develop a community engagement plan. They felt that the Sunnyvale Civic Center needs to reflect the community's vision, effectively serve the public and represent a positive image of the City. We now have a tremendous opportunity to envision a campus that not only markedly improves the way we deliver services to our customers but also becomes a source of pride as a community asset and gathering place.

The City currently provides an array of services from six different buildings at the Civic Center. The main City Hall building was built first in 1958 and other buildings were added as Sunnyvale grew and the Civic Center required more space. Planning to modernize the facilities will include reevaluating space needs, taking into consideration opportunities to better co-locate services and share space such as community meeting rooms, conference rooms, service counters and restrooms.

Throughout the years, the City has applied various short-term solutions to meet its space needs, such as adding a modular building and purchasing an adjacent office complex. However, the City has not made major investments in its facilities at the Civic Center for many years out of concern that various buildings might be replaced when an overall plan for the Civic Center was developed. The Civic Center Modernization Project was created to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the entire campus and plan for its facility needs to effectively serve the community well into the future.
Current Civic Center Facilities

On February 24, 2015, the City Council approved the Community Engagement Plan for the Civic Center Modernization Project. The plan includes a variety of ways to gather community input as alternatives are developed and evaluated. Three community workshops have taken place and further input from community stakeholders continues to be gathered using Open City Hall, an online engagement tool.

Reimagine the Library
Improving library services will be a primary focus of the Civic Center Modernization Project. Even with easy access to information on the internet, Sunnyvale's Library remains a popular destination with residents. On average, the library greets more than 2,000 visitors per day and circulated more than 2.7 million items last year. The current facility's age and space constraints limit services, and the Civic Center Modernization Project presents an opportunity to explore ways to better meet the community's needs.

Expanded Space
Sunnyvale's library has only about half of the space per capita compared to neighboring cities in the county, and is well below the average of 0.76 square feet per capita found in cities surveyed in Alameda, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.


Larger Collection
The challenge of limited space extends to the larger collection as well. Compared to other libraries in the local area, Sunnyvale has half the available materials. While e-books are gaining in popularity, they still only accounted for two percent of the Library's total circulation in Fiscal Year 2013/14.

Total Library Materials Available (per capita)

Program Space
Library program attendance has continued growing to more than 45,000 participants in Fiscal Year 2013/14. Library staff develop programs in response to community demand. For example, more than half of last year's attendees were for programs designed to help preschool children build early literacy skills. A Library designed to accommodate this programming would better serve the community.


Children's Materials
Limited space in the existing Library restricts the number of children's items we can make available, causing Sunnyvale to fall well below local area collections.

An expanded library in Sunnyvale could feature a larger children's area that would allow a bigger collection of books and materials and more space for popular children's programs.


Last Updated: Aug 9, 2017