The Civic Center for Cathedral City was designed by Thomas Gordon Smith Architects in collaboration with the California firm, MWM in 1995. The municipality of Cathedral City sponsored an architectural competition for the new 100,000 square foot city hall and police headquarters. Freedman, Tung & Bottomley wrote guidelines for the building and created a master plan to create an urban context. Their guidelines prescribed an urbanistic architecture that stemmed from classical and traditionally hispanic precedent. We accepted the guidelines with enthusiasm to create a proposal that clearly responded to the community's desire for a place of civic pride.

We efficiently addressed technical requirements and respond to the arid climate. The building was carefully oriented so pergolas and wide roof overhangs could protect south facing windows. Appropriate materials were selected to fit the budget and environment. Our team worked with a landscape architect to chose compatable plant materials.

The exterior has brightly colored stucco walls punctuated with deeply set windows and arched porticos. Large arches on the north and south define a paseo that extends through the building to circulate air. The City Council Chamber is located on top of the central block. This location gains views of the mountainous panorama and creates a tower-like presence to indicate the hierarchical importance of the chamber for civic government.

The Civic Center was dedicated in July 1998 and has become Cathedral City’s most recognized structure. The plaza has become the pivot for new commercial and entertainment structures.