Size 22,000 ft²
Completed 2014 (expected)
Program Municipal fire station
Owner City of Dallas
Civil Engineer Pacheco Koch
Structural Engineer JQ
General Contractor Bartlett Cocke General Contractors
Zaida Basora, assistant director of public works for the City of Dallas, had a problem. The old Fire Station 27 in the city’s growing Midtown section needed to be replaced because high-rises were being constructed all around it, which, in the business of fire protection, requires bigger trucks with a higher capacity for carrying and pumping water. At the same time, all that growth meant there was no appropriate land available on which to build. “We looked at other sites, but none had the service area that would accommodate trucks that leave and return in a hurry without disrupting traffic,” Basora says. In other words, the existing site would have to do.
Basora, a trained architect, had additional requirements to meet. Dallas subscribes to the Architecture 2030 Challenge, which strives to halve energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions and achieve carbon neutrality by the year 2030.
The city also adopted the LEED system as a benchmark for new buildings in 2003. After several years of extended drought conditions, municipal buildings in the city already were prioritizing landscaping with native plants and installing rainwater catchment systems to reduce potable water demand.
New firehouses also optimally include fitness rooms to keep first-responders in fighting condition and gender-specific accommodations—all of which require additional square footage. With this list of mandates, Basora turned to her team of engineers and architects to devise solutions.
Architects at Perkins+Will determined the new fire station would have to go vertical, and not just aboveground. They placed an 18-car parking area underground atop a rainwater cistern with a “pull-through” two-bay apparatus configuration at grade to accommodate four vehicles. Kent Pontious, Perkins+Will’s senior project manager for Fire Station 27, says sleeping quarters were then placed on the second story, similar to the way they might be in a typical home. Adjacent to the quarters is the fitness facility, which can be seen through glass walls both for safety and to motivate the firefighters.
Certification LEED Platinum (expected)
Exterior Cast-in-place concrete and metal panels, high R-value insulation
Windows High-performance with thermal breaks
Lighting LED lighting, deep interior daylighting via clerestory windows
Energy PV array, solar-water heating, VRF HVAC system, targeting carbon neutral
Water Rainwater collection
Building underground was no small task. The basement excavation meant cutting through 12 feet of limestone. “It was the only option in order to place the station where it was needed,” says Stephen Lucy, a principal at JQ, the structural engineering firm on the project.
Belowground, the cistern uses a polypropylene honeycomb void system, which supports the structural slab and parked cars. Above, cast-in-place concrete walls were a key architectural and energy-efficiency feature of the project—the most challenging aspect was creating “a uniform architectural appearance on the exterior face for the full 34-foot height of the exterior walls,” Lucy says.
Inside, shafts of daylight enter through a north-facing glass curtainwall and clerestory windows, and solar energy is captured with 84 photovoltaic modules on the roof and six solar water-heating collectors. With all of these features, the building is applying for LEED Platinum certification, an achievement that Basora believes is consistent with what Dallas residents want. “The perception that Texans don’t care about resource conservation is changing,” she says. “We have a mix of people in the city who bring a progressive mentality.”