Public Works/Maintenance Facility Design Essentials – Part 1 (Effective yet Affordable)
This series will draw from Legat’s experience managing the planning and design of maintenance facilities at two of Illinois’ largest community colleges: the College of DuPage (COD) and Joliet Junior College (JJC). Though the projects occurred on higher education campuses, the lessons that they reveal apply to any type of public works providers.
We start with a challenge that public works providers face throughout the country: how can I create a facility that is efficient, durable, and attractive (in a word, “effective”) . . . without spending a fortune?
The facilities and maintenance personnel at COD and JJC faced a challenge just like this. During the past ten years, both colleges have added to their campuses a collection of energy- and operationally- efficient modern buildings that are pleasing to the eye. In both cases, the new maintenance facilities were not a priority, mainly because they aren’t used directly by students. This brings to mind the public works provider, whose facilities issues often take a back seat to more public facilities like city/village halls and public safety buildings.
COD and JJC had campus maintenance facilities that were old and in various states of disrepair. And when their turn for a new facility came, the emphasis was achieving the same pleasing appearance as other campus buildings, while keeping costs down.
The design of the new facilities addressed this issue by using more visually appealing (and more expensive) materials on parts of the facilities exposed to the campus. For instance, more dollars were invested in office areas that face the campus, while the less visible garage and storage spaces use more utilitarian, though still durable materials.
At the COD Campus Maintenance Center (CMC), decorative precast concrete, metal, and glass get a starring role along the administrative office area that faces the campus. And on the garage above, there are clerestory windows that face the road to add visual interest. Basic precast was used for the more hidden storage and shop areas. The Precast Concrete Institute gave the CMC a Project of the Year award for its innovative materials use.
The design of JJC’s Facility Services Building uses a similar strategy, making particularly effective use of metal panels with the office and shop areas that students pass on their way to campus. The office area is a metal stud framed building with smooth, foam insulated panels, while corrugated metal over precast creates a more industrial look along the adjacent shop area. The garage area is set back and built of precast concrete, which is painted white to complement the predominant color of other buildings on campus.
Next time, we’ll give tips on screening materials, vehicles, and other “back of yard” resources.