Pennsylvania State Police Philadelphia Headquarters and Maintenance Garage
The new Pennsylvania State Police Headquarters in Philadelphia replaced a 50-year-old building with a modern, sustainable, and efficient facility on the same site. The complex includes 45,000 SF of offices plus a 9,000-SF, five-bay municipal maintenance garage to service Troop K’s vehicle fleet.
Security posed the biggest design challenge. The structure had to withstand potential vehicular impact and weapons blasts. Windows weren’t permitted below eight feet on the ground level or below six feet on upper floors. Landscaping – which could conceal intruders or explosives – was prohibited around the building perimeter. These parameters might lend themselves to a fortress-like exterior. However, the thoughtful design process found ways to merge security and sustainability objectives to add both visual interest and functionality.
Sustainable features woven into the architecture and site include: ground-source heat pumps with a supplemental cooling tower and energy recovery units; a ventilated curtain wall system on three façades; energy efficient lighting; a 1MW diesel generator for 100 percent emergency power; a green roof; and an advanced stormwater management system. To compensate for extensive site surface parking, two underground water catchment basins collect the first inch of rainwater and transfer it slowly back into the ground and city storm drains. As a result of the system and green roof, the site has zero stormwater impact and supports Philadelphia’s nationally recognized green infrastructure initiatives.
The exterior incorporates precast concrete panels, constructed off-site and installed quickly onto the structure to provide the mandated solidity. A ventilated curtain wall system overlays the panels, offering a sense of transparency while regulating the building’s HVAC usage. Air trapped between the glass curtain wall and masonry building skin is retained to insulate the building in winter and exhausted to cool the building in summer. The metal grating that supports the curtain wall serves both as a catwalk for maintenance crew to clean the glass and as a sunshade. The curtain wall and open ribbon windows let maximum daylight into the building with careful placement to minimize sun glare and heat gain. The colored glazing offers further interest at night, when exterior illumination makes the building appear to glow.
The plan maximizes security and troop efficiency. 24-7 operations are based on the first floor. Visitors enter through the front lobby and can only access the rest of the building via police escort. Police personnel enter at the rear nearest the staff parking. They traverse a single corridor to access the locker room, obtain their gear, and then exit to the patrol car parking at the opposite end of the building. The pipeline efficiency works in reverse at the end of a shift. The second floor contains nine-to-five office functions, with a central open space used as a temporary command center during emergency events; here TV crews might set up or Secret Service, local police, or other emergency personnel might be staged. The crime unit is located on the third floor, farthest from public access.
Clad in standing-seam metal panels, the garage connects to the headquarters via an enclosed vehicle maintenance and circulation courtyard, which offers an added level of security. Radiant-heat floors warm the service bays. An exhaust system and oil and water separators keep the air and water discharges clean.
Careful construction phasing ensured continuous police operations. In Phase 1, the new headquarters and garage were built on a former parking lot, and the first of two stormwater basins was installed. Police operations then shifted to the new building. In Phase 2, the vacated former barracks was demolished, the second stormwater basin installed, and the final parking completed. Temporary parking and construction equipment shifted around the site to safely accommodate construction and police activities.
A collaborative effort brought the project to completion under budget and on a schedule accelerated midway to accommodate the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia. Ironically, then-Mayor Michael Nutter missed the March 2014 groundbreaking ceremony because he was in Rome, encouraging the Pope to visit. When the Pope confirmed his September 2015 trip, construction was accelerated so the facility could serve as a security command center during the visit.
54,000 square feet
2017 CMAA Project of the Year: LEED/Sustainable Projects