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Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District plans $4 million headquarters

Last week, an architect unveiled preliminary designs for a new headquarters for the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District on a 15-acre farm in Beavercreek.

RENDERING COURTESY: ALAN COSTIC/ARCHITECTURE COMMUNITY - Solar panels on a new 10,900-sqaure-foot office building are expected to provide hot water for 30 employees at the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District's new headquarters in Beavercreek.An iconic 100-year-old barn at 22055 S. Beavercreek Road is providing design cues for a wood-framed 10,900-square-foot office building that would house 30 employees. After efforts by neighbors to save the building, the historic barn would be maintained as a focal point in the courtyard outside three public classrooms/meeting areas planned for the new barn-red district headquarters.

Outbuildings would house tools and supplies for the staff who often head out in the field for such dirty work as helping restore streambeds or demonstrating best practices for the reuse of manure. Back at the office, there would be a hose and a shower on the outside of the building to clean off the grime on work boots before heading inside to the shower room.

Nearly unique among governmental agencies, the conservation district is charged to conserve natural resources, primarily by working with willing landowners to reduce invasive species, minimize erosion and encourage healthy habitats. It also provides grants to nonprofit organizations that support its mission, including the Oregon City Farmers Market and the North Clackamas Urban Watershs Council.

The district hopes to demonstrate its conservation ethic by incorporating green practices and building methods into the facility that would easily qualify for LEED sustainability certification. Solar panels on the south side of the building are expected to provide more than enough energy for hot-water needs. Board members haven’t yet decided whether they want to spend the extra money to certify the LEED facility officially.

The district purchased the farm for $655,000 in July 2013 and has been using it to demonstrate good pasturing practices. A demonstration rain garden and pollinator patch might be added near the barn and new headquarters to entice and educate visitors.

During the Feb. 16 presentation, Alan Costic of Architecture Community estimated the total cost of the project at $4.37 million, but he acknowledged that the estimate had “a lot of padding.”

Board member Jeff Becker suggested that the entrance should look more like the front porch of a farmhouse than the front of a post office or other governmental building. Costic said that a wooden railing could be added to the design, and there already are plans to add wooden features to the underside of roofs.

Board members expressed concern about a flat roof in one part of the building design, but Costic said the roof could easily be adjusted to be sloped so that debris wouldn’t gather on it.

“We’ve probably done about 10 percent of the design work, so it’s too early to start detailing how to get water off the roof for reuse on the farm or other mechanical issues,” Costic said.

There’s still time to work out details such as engineering cost savings or working out how the project would be financed. District staff hope to relocate their offices to the site in Beavercreek before January 2019, when their current five-year lease ends. Leasing its current office space on Molalla Avenue in Oregon City is costing taxpayers nearly $100,000 a year.

The site includes a small farmhouse that later may be demolished or repurposed, depending on the final design.

RENDERING COURTESY: ALAN COSTIC/ARCHITECTURE COMMUNITY - More building perspectives drawn for Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District's new headquarters in Beavercreek.