‘A 1,000% improvement’: Early design for new city hall and fire station revealed
The schematic design for a new campus that would include a new city hall and fire station was updated and presented to Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday, July 12.
Principals from Davis Partnership Architects, who are designing the new fire station, and Anderson Hallas Architects, the designers of the new city hall, were present at Tuesday’s work session to bring City Council up to speed on the designs’ progress.
The campus encompasses two parcels, one at the corner of 10th Street and Oak, and another at on the corner of 10th Street and Lincoln Avenue.
The design places the new fire station on the northern parcel, where the current city hall building is located.
Because the new fire station would need so much space, 10th Street would end at the alleyway between Lincoln Avenue and Oak Street, but the space between the civic campus and Centennial Hall will be an open thoroughfare for pedestrian and bike traffic.
The schematic for the 18,000 square-foot fire station includes a large fitness area, two training areas, a kitchen, dining room, laundry room, and a patio among various offices and other spaces.
“Everything about this fire station is a 1,000% improvement over what we have now,” said Steamboat Springs Fire Chief Chuck Cerasoli.
The fire station would have four apparatus bays located right across from the Centennial Hall building. These bays are designed as pull-throughs, meaning fire trucks can pull in and out from both ends at either Oak Street or Lincoln Avenue. The city is working with the Colorado Department of Transportation to include stop-light control measures at Ninth Street and 11th Street so firefighters can have safe, fast access to Lincoln Avenue.
Because the direct route for fire trucks to access Lincoln Avenue would require they cut across a walking path, City Council and the designers entertained the idea of installing warning lights that would automatically flash when a fire truck is pulling out.
A “ribbon of space,” which will account for about 15% of the ground space, will function as a wide public walkway that will take pedestrians through the campus connecting Lincoln Avenue to the residential area north of Oak Street.
A formal gathering area is planned for the middle area of the walkway and may include a gazebo structure.
“We’re trying to create spaces that one or two people can activate so it feels lively, but it can also accommodate 200 people when it needs to,” said Joe Lear, a principal at Davis Partnership Architects.
The new city hall building is slated to be on the southern parcel on the corner of Lincoln Avenue and 10th Street, replacing a parking lot.
Though the design teams sought to retain as many parking spaces as they could, about 60 parking spaces are expected to be lost out of the 112 currently there.
The schematic for the new city hall calls for 15,200 square feet of interior space. The city hall is designed to accommodate 68 existing city employees with enough additional space for the 18 employees estimated to be added over the next 20 years.
The schematic also includes 18 parking spaces in addition to the 34 other spaces included in the civic campus plans.
While designing the new city hall’s look, the architects from Anderson Hallas sought to incorporate the stylings of the surrounding structures downtown, including brick arches, steel, layers of facade to create contextual depth, shadows and scale, and detailing that adds “whimsy and character,” according to the project’s concept diagram.
“One thing that we noticed is there’s a real energy and density to Lincoln Avenue,” said Wells Squier II, a principal at Anderson Hallas Architects. “Then it starts to decompose naturally a little bit. We get to the gas station, we have a void,” Squier II said referring to the parking lot across from the Conoco gas station downtown.
City Council raised concerns over several issues such as parking and sustainability goals.
The idea was floated to restrict some of the new parking spaces for compact cars only, but after discussion, it was determined it wouldn’t create enough additional spaces to make it worth it.
“We’re in the land of SUVs and pickup trucks,” said City Manager Gary Suiter.
Ultimately, the general opinion of City Council was that the lost parking spaces would be worth the addition of two new buildings, and said they were optimistic about an abundance of parking spaces near downtown that traditionally haven’t been used frequently such as the 20 parking spaces north of Oak Street and the parking lots at Howelsen Hill.
In regards to the campus’ alignment with the city’s sustainability goals, the architects outlined several potential strategies including geothermal heat pumps, a wood pellet stove, heat recovery systems and glass office walls that would maximize natural light.
City Council admitted that the biggest challenge might be communicating to the public the necessity of the new civic campus.
The project is currently in the outreach phase and on Saturday, July 16, City Council will be presenting the project and speaking to the public from their booth at the farmer’s market.
Construction is tentatively scheduled to start around May 1, 2023, and is estimated to continue for 18 months, finishing around October 2024.
To reach Spencer Powell, call 970-871-4229 or email him at spowell@SteamboatPilot.com
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