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    Featured Project

    City of Norfolk Municipal Center Conceptual Design

    A Transformation of Former Retail Space

    Completed for the City of Norfolk in the summer of 2021, PMA’s conceptual design proposed a bold vision to convert the 160,000 square foot former Nordstrom Building at MacArthur Center into a new Municipal Building for the city. Key features of the design include a stunning new glass façade and a soaring, sunlit atrium that channels light into interior spaces. PMA's concept was selected as one of three options being considered by the city for implementation.

    PMA Architecture received an Award of Merit for Best Conceptual Project for the design at the 2022 HRACRE Excellence in Development Design Awards.

    Downtown Urban Location


    The concept, presented to the client in still renderings, digitally animated Enscape walkthroughs, a daylighting simulation and in a 3D printed model, re-anchors the property while creating a dynamic urban focal point. Sophisticated modeling tools allowed the team to paint a picture of a new landmark in the cityscape - one capable of becoming another significant urban place.

    The design team’s multi-phased approach advocates for progressively renovating and occupying the building and site, beginning with creating a public atrium and housing the City’s IT and Utilities departments. The approach emphasizes a forward-thinking, long-range solution designed to stand the greater “test of time.”

    The project creatively “recycles” a former department store and leverages existing assets such as parking garages, elevators and stairs while incorporating a host of sustainable design elements such as reflective roof covering to lessen the heat island effect, compliance with the Energy Code for reduced energy consumption, LED lighting, new energy efficient building systems and the use of recycled materials.

    Site Plan


    A bright, gleaming new façade is proposed - establishing a new public face and an architectural vision of the new City Hall as a 21st century sign of what Norfolk will become. A public plaza in front of the east portico is envisioned to serve as a public piazza. In the tradition of ancient European cities, the Belgian block paved piazza is largely open, allowing both pedestrian and vehicular traffic to flow through it. The new piazza would double as a special events site to enliven the front of the new City Hall and create a new center of activity downtown.

    In a nod to the waterfront location and the City’s signature symbol since 2002, the mermaid, generous open space in front of the façade features a sculptural mermaid and pavers set in a wave-like pattern. The open space is punctuated with the city name prominently displayed in large letters at eye level.

    The new portico and expansive glass opening create a symbolic invitation to the community, gesturing visitors to enter the building from the east under cover from the elements. Visitors would park in an existing adjacent parking garage and walk-through existing pedestrian walkways to the new entrance. Secure staff entrances would be separately located at each parking garage level.

    Exterior Concept

    Existing Building


    Inside, the designers flip the mood of the existing interior as the dark, low-ceilinged interior - currently weighed down by a massive escalator that dominates the space - gives way to a soaring 3-story atrium that joins and unifies City Hall functions around a central, sunlit public core. Natural light washes through the atrium and work areas through clerestory windows on the roof and a series of three light wells at the third-floor ceiling level, each carefully sited to optimize daylighting potential while “dancing around” existing structural elements. Structural glass flooring at the second-floor level introduces additional light into work areas.

    The secure, health-conscious workplace would incorporate the emerging needs and realities of the “hybrid workplace.” The concept adopts Well Building Institute standards in the design of building systems, finishes, lighting, acoustics and other elements, promoting a collaborative workplace with video conferencing, huddle spaces, shared and breakout spaces, finely tuned acoustic control, natural daylighting and shared amenities.

    The concept organizes departments around the client’s adjacency preferences with the atrium serving as the central spine. Security management includes physical privacy controls, a state-of the-art security system and a manned checkpoint to monitor arrivals and provide wayfinding assistance.

    Daylighting Study

    Interior Rendering

    A 50 Year Solution

    The conceptual design illustrates an exciting and executable vision for 1) replacing a cavernous empty space with a committed long-term tenant; 2) crafting a new, modern and inviting home for City offices and public services; 3) creating a new “public square;” and 4) opening up new downtown pedestrian connections.

    The concept presents a 50-year solution to creatively address current city needs while providing the flexibility to compliment future investment, as a new, vibrant and iconic city landmark is molded.

    Read more about the conceptual design:

    Best Conceptual Project Award Goes to... PMA Architecture