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Suwanee debuts its new City Hall with celebration

SUWANEE - The nasty weather Saturday caused officials to reschedule the human aerial art community photo, but didn't deter folks from coming out for the Suwanee City Hall Grand Opening Celebration.

Residents and dignitaries of Suwanee and other Gwinnett cities packed into the new, 23,600-square-foot, art deco-styled City Hall for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, open house and musical entertainment provided by local high school groups. Visitors were free to leisurely explore the building, and refreshments included a 4-by-6-foot, 200-pound cake made and frosted in the image of the building's facade.

BRPH, an architectural firm in Marietta, won the city's design competition in 2006 and soon realized, according to architect K. Scott Gordon, that this was the kind of opportunity that "more often resides in the dreams of architects rather than on their drawing boards."

"Opportunities like this don't come along that often in an architect's career," Gordon said.

In its efforts to craft a landmark structure and key focal point for Town Center Park, Gordon said, the firm considered Suwanee's history as a transportation hub and "the grandness of the park." Gordon's team studied several train stations and depots throughout Georgia and chose marble - a material native to the state - for key elements of the building's facade to "establish ties as a true Georgia City Hall."

After the November 2007 groundbreaking, one of the largest construction management companies in the country, Turner Construction, began its work on the $7.2 million project.

The result of the collaboration is a structure of grand, sweeping arches, a two-story glass wall in front and a 90-foot clock tower that the staff at BHRP feels captures the "historic, iconographic and civic character" of Suwanee.

"We were just thrilled to be a part of this," Gordon said.

The building is also distinctive because it meets Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards, just the second Gwinnett public facility to boast that certification.

Suwanee resident Orlando Parker and his wife, who works in the city court system, came out for the event and were impressed with what they saw.

"I think it's a beautiful building," Parker said. "The railroad theme ties in really nice with the surrounding area, it has a different look from other buildings and sets the center stage."

Lynne DeWilde, Suwanee public information officer, along with the rest of City Hall tenants, moved her office into the new building in February.

"It's great, it's just cool to come to work here," she said.

DeWilde said the celebration was a complete success, "despite Mother Nature's lousy mood." The human aerial art community photo is rescheduled for today at City Hall, with registration beginning at 1 p.m. DeWilde asks that those who have not registered wear a white T-shirt for the photo.