When Coquitlam Fire & Rescue renovated its Town Centre Firehall and headquarters station, it required a 13,000-square-foot addition to its administrative wing to accommodate more staff, a communication center and a classroom/training room. Designers needed to provide both an aesthetic and a physical link between the old and new fire hall and administration.
The 2-story-plus-basement addition not only allowed space for the dispatch center, training room and administration headquarters, but also reorganized the access to public and private spaces in the building with a new front entrance. Kim Johnston of Johnston Davaidson Architecture + Planning said that the design concept for this brick-veneer-clad fire hall also offered the building a stronger sense of entry and presence within the City Centre Area.
“We are most proud that the building creates a public presence for the fire department by reorganizing the flow of the site and creating an easily recognizable front entrance while physically joining the suppression crew quarters and administration,” she said.
One of the most challenging aspects of this project was managing the goals and expectations of the various departments within the client group and to physically address varying levels of the existing buildings as they merge together into the new renovation.
A key lesson Johnston learned in the project is the importance of the project accommodating flexibility without becoming too anonymous and bland.
“As projects get developed from schematic design to final completion, often over a number of years, strategies can change — especially in an industry like fire rescue,” Johnson said. “So, ensuring good coordination and common goals always helps the process move effectively.
“I would still encourage everyone to think as big as possible within your budget because chance of coming back a second time to build another story is not likely to happen. However, this often means sometimes compromises have to be made and everyone on the team needs to be aware of the ramifications of those choices while being willing to accept them.”