Contract - Police Presence:Designing the Hollenbeck Police Station

design - features - institutional design



Police Presence:Designing the Hollenbeck Police Station

01 November, 2009

-By Jennifer Thiele Busch, Photography by Timothy Hursley



It's not every day that designers are required to deliver a project that is welcoming and infused with transparency and natural light, yet durable enough to withstand a potential attack. Yet in the high-risk world of inner city law enforcement, the architectural requirements are such that members of the design team from Los Angeles-based AC Martin Partners found themselves testing materials for the new Hollenbeck Police Station on a firing range—with semi-automatic weapons.

Talk about a reality check. While the design of most work environments revolves around such issues as functional adjacencies, maximizing productivity, and transforming corporate culture, at the Hollenbeck Police Station safety and security are the primary design issues—then all that other stuff follows. What sets this project apart, however, is that inspiring and welcoming design were also at the top of the priority list. In a community infested with drug-related crimes and gang violence, Hollenbeck Police Station would serve as both a warning and a comforting symbol that the police are watching—depending upon which side of the law you happen to fall.

"It has really captured the imagination of a lot of people," David Martin, design principal at AC Martin, says of the new police station. "It's a statement of a new social awareness that the police should be part of the community and should not be behind the walls of some paramilitary fortress." Despite its crime problems, Hollenbeck is also a vibrant, low-income Hispanic community with a rich artistic culture and citizens who care deeply about their neighborhood. "These neighbors really use their police station," says Vincent Jones, program manager for the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering's Proposition Q Bond Program. (Under this program passed in 2002, the City of Los Angeles built and renovated a total of 13 new police, fire, and paramedic facilities. Hollenbeck is one of five new police stations that have been realized under Proposition Q.) "Part of the objective was to make the facility inviting for public use. The building had to be special," adds Jones.

The 54,000-sq.-ft. Hollenbeck Police Station is located on a central corner site in Boyle Heights, across the street from a notoriously drug-infested urban park and the local public library. "They said they wanted to pick a site where they could make a difference," explains Martin. "We don't ordinarily hear that." Another surprise came when the client enthusiastically embraced the idea of a glass building. "We were aware that they didn't want to create a fortress with foreboding walls," says Martin. "So we asked, 'Why don't we make it all out of glass?' The police said, "Why not?'" Of course, the idea had to be carefully vetted, since the glass would have to be able to withstand a drive-by shooting with a machine gun. (It's happened in Hollenbeck before.) So "fortress" is an apt description of how the building had to function, if not how it wanted to look.

Architecturally, the bullet-proof glass façade, overlaid with mounted, translucent glass panels in an undulating pattern, is carefully designed to shield views into the station from the outside while still allowing natural light and some views to the outside. This was done for security reasons, explains Martin, to protect the identity and shield the movements of the desk sergeant on duty, who literally can be first in the line of fire. But the design of the façade also gives the building a sculptural presence, in keeping with the artistic quality of the neighborhood. On the other three sides, the building is a more typical concrete box, punctuated by protruding windows that add interest and dimension, and panels of color that blend in with the bright hues characteristic of Spanish culture. The gesture is fitting for a neighborhood where bold, colorful street murals are celebrated as an important form of artistic expression.

What the interiors lack in glamour they make up for in inspiration and functionality. The glass façade floods the building with natural light, energizing the Hollenbeck police force, whose stress over three years in tight, temporary space is surpassed by the stress of the day-to-day job. And while Jones explains that the programs for all new and renovated police stations under Proposition Q were the same, including roll call rooms, locker rooms, lunch rooms, and community rooms, at Hollenbeck the focus on openness and atypical materials helps this station stand out. "When people go inside and see hardwood floors, interesting light fixtures, and modular furniture, they think, 'This doesn't look like a police station,'" Jones says.

Christopher King, AC Martin's director of interior architecture and something of a materials guru, was responsible for searching out materials for the interior spaces that met two primary qualifications: "They had to be durable, and they had to be sustainable," says King, pointing out that the Hollenbeck Police Station has in fact achieved a LEED Gold rating. Unofficially, the client was also looking for something to liven up the joint. "The [police] were open to new things," says King. "The more exuberant the materials we would bring them, the more excited they would get." The entry and the main hallway feature Worthwood, an endgrain flooring product made from reclaimed and recycled wood scraps. Four different colors of Eco Surfaces rubber flooring—red, yellow, brown, and blue/gray—cover the rest of the floors throughout. In reception, the bullet-proof front desk is fabricated from Norplex Micarta Brass multiple-ply ballistic fiberglass laminate, which was left exposed. "Normally it is clad in gypsum board, but the material was quite nice itself," notes King.

In a building that is so program-intensive, the designers worked hard to deconstruct the various functions and adjacencies, then put the plans back together in a logical sequence that still allowed for the necessary sight lines for security and some surprising touches like skylights and windows at the end of every corridor to increase the amount of natural light flowing into the building. "All of this opened up what could have been a very dark maze," says King.

At the opening of the Hollenbeck Police Station in September, Martin and his team were gratified by the positive response from both the police force and the community. They noticed with pleasure that already a chain-link fence had been removed from around the library across the street and that people were actively using the new, landscaped public plaza in front of the building. In fact, everyone involved hopes that this piece of architecture is a harbinger of better things to come for Boyle Heights. "This building is not overpowering, but it makes a huge statement in that area," notes Jones.



who
Project: Hollenbeck Replacement Station. Client: City of Los Angeles/ Department of Public Works. Architect, interior designer, lighting designer: AC Martin Partners. Structural engineer: Brandow & Johnston. Mechanical /electrical engineer: TMAD Taylor & Gaines. General contractor: FTR International. Photographer: Timothy Hursley.

what
Wallcoverings: Wall and Floor Tile: Dal-Tile. Laminate: Nevamar, Pionite. Dry wall: USG. Masonry: Angelus Block. Flooring: Ecco Surfaces, Armstrong, Worthwood. Carpet/carpet tile: Interface Flooring. Ceiling: Armstrong World Industries. Lighting: Prudential, Poulsen, Linear, Kurt Versen. Doors: Security Metal Products. Door hardware: Corbin/ Russwin, Adams-Rite, Norton, Hager. Glass: PPG, California Glass Bending, Panelite IGU - Orange Honeycomb. Window frames/wall systems: US Aluminum. Window treatments: Levolor. Bullet-proof glass: California Glass Bending. Exposed bullet–resistant desk panels: Norplex Micarta Brass. Workstations/seating; lounge, cafeteria, dining, auditorium, other seating; upholstery; conference, cafeteria, dining, training, other tables; files; shelving; planters, accessories: Furnished by City of LA. Signage: Braille Signs. Elevators: Mitsubishi. HVAC: McQuay, Carrier, Liebert, Trane. Fire safety: Edwards Systems Technology. Security: AMAG Technology, Sentrol, GE. Bulidling management system: Alerton, Dell. Plumbing fixtures: Kohler, Sloan, Just.

where
Location: Los Angeles, CA. Total floor area: 54,300 sq. ft. No. of floors: Two.
Average floor size: 27,150 sq. ft. Total staff size: 250 – 300. Cost/sq. ft.: $360.




Police Presence:Designing the Hollenbeck Police Station

01 November, 2009


Timothy Hursley

It's not every day that designers are required to deliver a project that is welcoming and infused with transparency and natural light, yet durable enough to withstand a potential attack. Yet in the high-risk world of inner city law enforcement, the architectural requirements are such that members of the design team from Los Angeles-based AC Martin Partners found themselves testing materials for the new Hollenbeck Police Station on a firing range—with semi-automatic weapons.

Talk about a reality check. While the design of most work environments revolves around such issues as functional adjacencies, maximizing productivity, and transforming corporate culture, at the Hollenbeck Police Station safety and security are the primary design issues—then all that other stuff follows. What sets this project apart, however, is that inspiring and welcoming design were also at the top of the priority list. In a community infested with drug-related crimes and gang violence, Hollenbeck Police Station would serve as both a warning and a comforting symbol that the police are watching—depending upon which side of the law you happen to fall.

"It has really captured the imagination of a lot of people," David Martin, design principal at AC Martin, says of the new police station. "It's a statement of a new social awareness that the police should be part of the community and should not be behind the walls of some paramilitary fortress." Despite its crime problems, Hollenbeck is also a vibrant, low-income Hispanic community with a rich artistic culture and citizens who care deeply about their neighborhood. "These neighbors really use their police station," says Vincent Jones, program manager for the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering's Proposition Q Bond Program. (Under this program passed in 2002, the City of Los Angeles built and renovated a total of 13 new police, fire, and paramedic facilities. Hollenbeck is one of five new police stations that have been realized under Proposition Q.) "Part of the objective was to make the facility inviting for public use. The building had to be special," adds Jones.

The 54,000-sq.-ft. Hollenbeck Police Station is located on a central corner site in Boyle Heights, across the street from a notoriously drug-infested urban park and the local public library. "They said they wanted to pick a site where they could make a difference," explains Martin. "We don't ordinarily hear that." Another surprise came when the client enthusiastically embraced the idea of a glass building. "We were aware that they didn't want to create a fortress with foreboding walls," says Martin. "So we asked, 'Why don't we make it all out of glass?' The police said, "Why not?'" Of course, the idea had to be carefully vetted, since the glass would have to be able to withstand a drive-by shooting with a machine gun. (It's happened in Hollenbeck before.) So "fortress" is an apt description of how the building had to function, if not how it wanted to look.

Architecturally, the bullet-proof glass façade, overlaid with mounted, translucent glass panels in an undulating pattern, is carefully designed to shield views into the station from the outside while still allowing natural light and some views to the outside. This was done for security reasons, explains Martin, to protect the identity and shield the movements of the desk sergeant on duty, who literally can be first in the line of fire. But the design of the façade also gives the building a sculptural presence, in keeping with the artistic quality of the neighborhood. On the other three sides, the building is a more typical concrete box, punctuated by protruding windows that add interest and dimension, and panels of color that blend in with the bright hues characteristic of Spanish culture. The gesture is fitting for a neighborhood where bold, colorful street murals are celebrated as an important form of artistic expression.

What the interiors lack in glamour they make up for in inspiration and functionality. The glass façade floods the building with natural light, energizing the Hollenbeck police force, whose stress over three years in tight, temporary space is surpassed by the stress of the day-to-day job. And while Jones explains that the programs for all new and renovated police stations under Proposition Q were the same, including roll call rooms, locker rooms, lunch rooms, and community rooms, at Hollenbeck the focus on openness and atypical materials helps this station stand out. "When people go inside and see hardwood floors, interesting light fixtures, and modular furniture, they think, 'This doesn't look like a police station,'" Jones says.

Christopher King, AC Martin's director of interior architecture and something of a materials guru, was responsible for searching out materials for the interior spaces that met two primary qualifications: "They had to be durable, and they had to be sustainable," says King, pointing out that the Hollenbeck Police Station has in fact achieved a LEED Gold rating. Unofficially, the client was also looking for something to liven up the joint. "The [police] were open to new things," says King. "The more exuberant the materials we would bring them, the more excited they would get." The entry and the main hallway feature Worthwood, an endgrain flooring product made from reclaimed and recycled wood scraps. Four different colors of Eco Surfaces rubber flooring—red, yellow, brown, and blue/gray—cover the rest of the floors throughout. In reception, the bullet-proof front desk is fabricated from Norplex Micarta Brass multiple-ply ballistic fiberglass laminate, which was left exposed. "Normally it is clad in gypsum board, but the material was quite nice itself," notes King.

In a building that is so program-intensive, the designers worked hard to deconstruct the various functions and adjacencies, then put the plans back together in a logical sequence that still allowed for the necessary sight lines for security and some surprising touches like skylights and windows at the end of every corridor to increase the amount of natural light flowing into the building. "All of this opened up what could have been a very dark maze," says King.

At the opening of the Hollenbeck Police Station in September, Martin and his team were gratified by the positive response from both the police force and the community. They noticed with pleasure that already a chain-link fence had been removed from around the library across the street and that people were actively using the new, landscaped public plaza in front of the building. In fact, everyone involved hopes that this piece of architecture is a harbinger of better things to come for Boyle Heights. "This building is not overpowering, but it makes a huge statement in that area," notes Jones.



who
Project: Hollenbeck Replacement Station. Client: City of Los Angeles/ Department of Public Works. Architect, interior designer, lighting designer: AC Martin Partners. Structural engineer: Brandow & Johnston. Mechanical /electrical engineer: TMAD Taylor & Gaines. General contractor: FTR International. Photographer: Timothy Hursley.

what
Wallcoverings: Wall and Floor Tile: Dal-Tile. Laminate: Nevamar, Pionite. Dry wall: USG. Masonry: Angelus Block. Flooring: Ecco Surfaces, Armstrong, Worthwood. Carpet/carpet tile: Interface Flooring. Ceiling: Armstrong World Industries. Lighting: Prudential, Poulsen, Linear, Kurt Versen. Doors: Security Metal Products. Door hardware: Corbin/ Russwin, Adams-Rite, Norton, Hager. Glass: PPG, California Glass Bending, Panelite IGU - Orange Honeycomb. Window frames/wall systems: US Aluminum. Window treatments: Levolor. Bullet-proof glass: California Glass Bending. Exposed bullet–resistant desk panels: Norplex Micarta Brass. Workstations/seating; lounge, cafeteria, dining, auditorium, other seating; upholstery; conference, cafeteria, dining, training, other tables; files; shelving; planters, accessories: Furnished by City of LA. Signage: Braille Signs. Elevators: Mitsubishi. HVAC: McQuay, Carrier, Liebert, Trane. Fire safety: Edwards Systems Technology. Security: AMAG Technology, Sentrol, GE. Bulidling management system: Alerton, Dell. Plumbing fixtures: Kohler, Sloan, Just.

where
Location: Los Angeles, CA. Total floor area: 54,300 sq. ft. No. of floors: Two.
Average floor size: 27,150 sq. ft. Total staff size: 250 – 300. Cost/sq. ft.: $360.

 


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