Global architecture and design firm Perkins+Will is approaching the design of police stations and academies throughout North America in a variety of new ways
Architects at Perkins+Will are reinventing police academies and stations in ways that are reshaping the North American jurisdictions where law enforcement methods are taught and practiced. According to Janice Barnes, Ph.D of Perkins+Will – the global architecture and design firm behind such projects as the Toronto Police Service Training Facility and the Los Angeles Rampart Station – a surprising mix of technology, government reinvention, and enforcement methods are transforming today’s police forces.
“A wave of big thinking is now reshaping how police learn and work,” says Barnes, coauthor of the recent white paper, 21st Century Training Academy: Planning Principles. “Everything from open-plan workplaces and GPS applications to social media use and predictive policing are being brought in to help improve public trust and increase public safety. Plus we see many creative approaches, such as innovative community partnerships, cross-service collaborations, and programs to share experience from retired officers.”
A range of new innovations are being implemented in the design for such establishments. Like any work or study environment, police officers now expect more mobile and activity-based work. “New facilities need a collaborative structure for teaming, often with a joint collaboration space,” says Barnes, “and they often look like open office environments. Much like project rooms in any industry, police use these immersive environments to tackle more complex problems while maintaining visual presence of the work.”
Inclusion of areas for stress reduction is another concept taken into account by designers. “Physical training – such as cardio, cross-fit, rope climbing, and mat work – not only improves on-the-job skills but also provides much needed stress relief. Combined with informal interior gathering spaces such as lounges and kitchens — and exterior areas of respite like gardens, patios, balconies, terraces – these all serve to improve the quality of life for staff as well as officers,” says Leigh Christy, an associate principal at Perkins+Will.
By carefully organising daily tasks and spaces such as personnel parking, patrol car drop-off, fitness room, locker rooms, the briefing room, equipment checkout areas, mailroom, report writing area, breakrooms, and the like in the optimum relationship and flow, precincts can handle shift changes more smoothly and quickly. This, in turn, puts patrol on the street faster.