Revitalising downtown LA

Nick Myall
Monday 12 Jun 2017

Perkins+Will have completed the renovation of key Police facility in LA

The Metropolitan Division Facility is located on a sloping site near downtown Los Angeles. The goal of this renovation by Perkins + Will was to provide a strong positive image and a reassuring presence to the community, creating a new chapter in the story of the “Old Rampart” police station.

Originally developed in 1966 as a community police station, the site housed an existing two-story concrete bunker building with attached single level parking deck. The 1.74-acre site occupies a corner lot in a high density residential community. From operational efficiencies through design, to recycling cherished remnants of history, transformation occurs on every level through shell renovation, workplace development and aesthetic upgrades, quality of life is improved within and without. A showcase of carefully selected sustainable possibilities transform this former bunker into a vibrant, dynamic place to work, surrounded by artwork and garden spaces in a dense quarter of the city.

The public face of the existing building protected a north façade of black glass, black mullions, and dark brick. The new design repurposes custom terracotta tile as a new entry and demolishes the dark asbestos-filled façade panels and their non-thermally-broken mullions. In their place is a bright white framed curtain wall with translucent ballistic glass, allowing daylight in throughout the day while it glows softly as a beacon in the evening. New glazing, lighting, greenery, public art and the reuse of salvaged materials increase perimeter security while softening this facility’s historical image. 

The design included a tactical transformation—a series of interventions that respect the original architecture while providing a fresh community image and inserting a modern collaborative workspace. Strategic carvings admit daylight into high priority, frequently occupied spaces such as the “slot,” the central interconnecting circulation hub. Strategic carvings into the 1966 concrete bunker allow diffused sunlight into high priority and frequently occupied spaces. The central “slot” transmits daylight by removing narrow portions of the floor and roof in the east-west direction, thus creating an interconnecting central circulation hub in heart of the building. Daylight from the new rooftop monitor flows through the slot and glass bridgework into adjacent occupied spaces.

The renovated 24/7 state-of-the-art law enforcement facility now efficiently houses an elite specialized police division—which includes S.W.A.T., Supplementary Crime Suppression platoons, K-9 Division, Dignitary Protection, as well as Armored Patrol. Program elements include a secure perimeter, staff offices, conference rooms, training facilities, auxiliary armory, equipment storage, kennels, protected parking and display areas throughout. Given the highly secure nature of their responsibilities, the facility, while visually open, is necessarily designed with limited public access.

The elite Division expressed a desire to move away from the way they were working in separate rooms by platoons and toward an open office space with all platoons working together with the goal of cross-pollination and maximizing efficient work flows. Interior planning maximizes work space efficiency and flexibility while maintaining major existing shear walls. Glass bridges permit daylight deep into the lower floor and create strong internal connections.

Recaptured open space (25% of site) was used to create amenity spaces for officers like the barbeque garden which employs permeable pavers and native plants. The staff terrace functions as a landscaped outdoor room or overflow space for large events.

Leigh Christy

Leigh Christy is an Associate Principal and Senior Project Architect at Perkins+Will. She is a member of the firm’s Green Team and Resiliency Task Force, the leader of the Los Angeles office's Social Responsibility Committee, and the head of the firmwide Innovation Incubator microgrant program. Leigh specializes in providing innovative, sustainable and efficient project solutions that meet the client’s needs and is extremely active in the Los Angeles River revitalization efforts. Using both research and project work as a basis, she frequently publishes articles and presents on issues dealing with social and environmental sustainability at all scales.

Listen to our podcast with Leigh Christy from Perkins+Will and Katerina Hojgrova here...

The WAN Business Information team has noticed an increased demand for new civic building developments, predominantly for courts, police and federal facilities.

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