There are many aspects and locations within a city that are important for the community. This can include places like hospitals, parks, community centers and schools. Some locations that can often be forgotten about are police stations. Of course, police officers are often regarded as important members of the community, but the space they work in can also have an impact.
Police station design has been pretty stagnant for many years. Most stations have been built and designed following the same layout, but recently cities are looking into how police station architecture can not only impact the work that the staff does within the facility, but how a new and unique design can impact the entire community.
Officers are often working in facilities that are not completely adequate for the jobs that need to be done. Most communities only design and build a new facility every 40-50 years, which means that many of these police facilities are no longer adequate for the actual functions of the department. In the past, police station design laid out departments to easily facilitate quick interactions. This means designing around a prescribed path regardless of the station, the staff or the location. While it does touch on efficiency to layout the station based on where to get orders, pick up gear and getting out of the door quickly, it is becoming more obvious that there are newer and more effective ways to promote efficiency in more than one area.
Many times police stations can have a negative view from a community. People don’t feel comfortable in police stations or don’t want them in their neighborhoods. To combat this type of view and to work harder to serve the community, stations are changing up the way that they are designed. They are hoping that new, transparent and modern designs will help to build a more positive relationship with the community. To physically implement this type of transparency, some stations are increasing their windows, making the station entrances and lobbies almost completely made of windows. Not only does it give the room a more airy and light feel, but with so much more natural light it is cutting down on the building’s energy use. This could help them attain their LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, which also has a positive impact on the community.
Instead of continuing to build stations surrounding the same layout they always have been, centered around quick interactions, a new and more functional practice has begun to make its way into police station design. There are many divisions and departments in a station and many times they are compartmentalized and cut off from one another. In order to facilitate communication with other divisions, new stations are implementing an open layout concept. This is to encourage engagement and effectiveness within the entire station. Another benefit of this open concept is the ability to be flexible with departments. As platoons grow and shrink as the different policing needs change, the station can evolve because of the flexibility built into the building.
There are also some old-school changes being made within stations to promote efficiency and safety like creating larger hallways that make it easier to maneuver heavy equipment throughout. Organization systems should also be considered when redesigning in hopes that valuable space will not be wasted on inefficient storage. High density shelving is a great way to promote full usage of space while still providing adequate storage for all of the station’s needs. In addition, proper storage of things like evidence is critical. Refrigerated evidence lockers are also integral when building an organized and efficient station.
Police stations are an incredibly important part of the community and their relationship with neighborhoods and locals can have a huge impact on how the station and community work together. The flow through the space of a station, from the front door to the waiting room to the place a person would report a crime speaks volumes for how the station operates and how they are helping serve the community. With a quickly changing world with quickly changing needs, police station design should always be evolving and working to better serve their communities.