INTRODUCTION


FOURMILE FIRE STATION DESIGN COMPETITION

The Fourmile Fire Protection District is in the foothills of Boulder, Colorado.  In December of 2012, they started their search for a design/build team that would help build a new fire station to better serve the needs of their firefighters and community.  After an invitation-based interview process, Pel-Ona Architects and Urbanists was selected as one of three firms to participate in the paid competition.
INTRODUCTION
FOUR MILE FIRE STATION

CHALLENGES


FOURMILE FIRE STATION DESIGN COMPETITION

The main challenges of this project stem from its steep site.  With a set budget, measures should be taken to limit the costs associated with civil engineering, and specifically excavation.  This site necessitates careful consideration of the proper building location, cost effective parking options, well-organized vehicular access and ideal solar orientation.

The overlap between emergency response facilities and the public spaces present an inherent challenge as well.  Emergency facilities need to be able to operate without disruption during times when the community is present.  It is a given that there will be some shared facilities.  While this will cut down on costs, the organization of these spaces needs to limit the conflicts between uses.

The station plans to grow its volunteer-based organization and would like room for this expansion and subsequent needs.  The Fourmile Fire Station wants to provide an enticing environment that retains its current volunteers while attracting new volunteers from different age groups.  In that sense, the building should be multifunctional, exhibit the timeless qualities of traditional fire stations, and respond to the context of the mountain community and younger volunteers.
CHALLENGES
FOUR MILE FIRE STATION

ARCHITECTURAL CHARACTER AND CONSTRUCTION


FOURMILE FIRE STATION DESIGN COMPETITION


Our design proposes a simple and compact massing that is noble and energy efficient.  The gabled roofs offer familiar forms that are civic, welcoming and can be constructed with trusses and standard framing techniques.  The rooftop decks are enclosed with parapet walls.  They define the top edges of the apparatus bay with a cornice and frame the forward-facing gable of the Administrative Office, where the staff can manage the coming and going vehicles.

The material change between the main level  and second floor reflects the change in use and security level.  Vertical siding, corrugated metal and timber columns, brackets and beams can be found on the second floor.  These materials are tactile, scaled for the pedestrian and commonly found in buildings throughout the foothills.  With large windows and doors, these warm materials create an inviting public entrance on the east side of the building.

The tower is a functional and whimsical element that gives interest to the building from all sides.  It is a training tool that gives volunteers easy access to the roof and it is a form that can be found in civic buildings throughout history.

In contrast to the smaller design features on the east facade, the tall red apparatus bay doors and enlarged features that face west make the building easily identifiable as a Fire Station from Fourmile Canyon Road.
ARCHITECTURAL CHARACTER AND CONSTRUCTION
FOUR MILE FIRE STATION

TOPOGRAPHY


FOURMILE FIRE STATION DESIGN COMPETITION

The location of the building is critical to keeping site-related costs to a minimum.  Our proposal takes advantage of the existing topography by using the flattest areas for vehicular access.  This strategy reduces the excavation costs associated with creating driveways and parking lots on the sloping site.  The building is located between these flat areas.  Its foundation acts as the retaining wall that holds the hillside in place and creates the rear and partial side walls for the apparatus bay.  Excavation for the building’s foundation can be used to level the grade at the existing debris pit to prepare the area for the proposed parking lot.  This scheme serves multiple needs that a single story building could not.

TOPOGRAPHY
FOUR MILE FIRE STATION

SOLAR ORIENTATION


FOURMILE FIRE STATION DESIGN COMPETITION

This public building is a second home for many of its visitors.  A well-lit and pleasant environment is critical for its day to day users.  With this in mind, we sited the building with its long axis oriented north.  This creates daylighting opportunities throughout the year for the east-facing public entry, the south-facing exercise room and multipurpose rooms, and the west-facing rooftop decks and apparatus bay doors.  In addition to the energy saving and psychological advantages of this exposure, the afternoon sun would aid in snow melt at the driveway for the emergency vehicles entering and exiting the building at Fourmile Canyon Road.

SOLAR ORIENTATION
FOUR MILE FIRE STATION

EMERGENCY ACCESS & PUBLIC ACCESS


FOURMILE FIRE STATION DESIGN COMPETITION

Our proposal organizes the building to engage both volunteers and community members.  The emergency activities of the fire station are kept separate from the more public activities with distinct access at two entries.  This organization utilizes opportunities for shared spaces while limiting the conflicts of overlapping uses.

The emergency-related activities of the apparatus bay are accessed directly off of Fourmile Canyon Road at the ground floor of the building.  This location reduces the response time associated with long driveways .  It has good visibility for departing emergency vehicles as well as street traffic.  With four proposed parking stalls at this entry, engineers and staff can quickly arrive at the building, gear up and respond to emergencies.

The public and administrative activities of the building are accessed off of a short driveway at the east side of the building that leads to the second floor.  This driveway follows the existing grade as it ascends off of Fourmile Canyon Road.  There is a compact parking lot with 15 spaces at the end of the driveway, conveniently located adjacent to the building.  When more parking is needed for events with high attendance, on-street parking is available along Fourmile Canyon Road and the driveway that leads to the public entry.  There are 30 parking spaces in total.
EMERGENCY ACCESS & PUBLIC ACCESS
FOUR MILE FIRE STATION

EXERCISE & TRAINING


FOURMILE FIRE STATION DESIGN COMPETITION

Exercise opportunities are designed throughout the building.  With access to all four sides and the roof, the entire building is meant to be a training tool.  The tower at the east-facing public entrance establishes the civic nature of the building, while creating a playful means to get to the roof.  Direct access to a deck from the gym provides a second opportunity for roof access.  Stairs on the north side of the building and ladders on the east side, facilitate building maintenance and complete a potential training circuit around the building.

During cold weather, the indoor gym offers more conventional exercise options.  It is unique in that it has a 30 ft climbing wall that descends to the floor of the apparatus bay.  It is enclosed with the stairwell and fire pole to prevent exhaust and debris from entering the clean areas of the second floor.  From below, a climber can be belayed by a exercise partner.

There is an additional training opportunity above the front entry to the apparatus bay.  Our proposal includes a Rescue Room large enough to practice confined space rescue, ladder rescue and rescue-from-above exercises.  This room can be accessed from the climbing wall area as well as the rooftop deck off of the gym.

An awning above the apparatus bay doors shields the entries from the elements and creates a semi-sheltered area in front of the bays to manage equipment and train for emergencies.  In addition, it provides diffused and reflected light deep into the apparatus bay through the transom windows.
EXERCISE & TRAINING
FOUR MILE FIRE STATION

PHASING


FOURMILE FIRE STATION DESIGN COMPETITION

The building is designed to be constructed in parts if it is cost prohibitive to build it in one phase.  It is our understanding that the three mixed-use rooms are intended to serve the growing needs of the station and may not be as necessary as other pieces of the program for its immediate operation.  These rooms have been designed at the south-east corner of the building.  They are not situated directly above the lower level and could be constructed with a shallower foundation.  The proposed roof for this section of the building is a simple gable that ties into the main roof with standard over framing techniques.  In these ways, flexibility has been incorporated into the design and the mixed-use rooms could be built at a later date.

Additionally, the tower element could be constructed in a second phase.  It is somewhat autonomous to the rest of the building and could be incorporated at a later point for similar reasons to the mixed-use rooms.­
PHASING
FOUR MILE FIRE STATION