When the Beaverton Police Department moved into its current location in a city-owned building on Griffith Drive, the tenancy was supposed to be temporary. That was nearly 35 years ago.
Now, an end to the long wait to move into a building designed specifically for the department's needs is in sight. The city earlier this week held a ceremony marking the official start of construction of a new 74,000 square-foot Beaverton Public Safety Center.
When completed in 2020, the building at the corner of Hall Street and Allen Boulevard will serve as home for both the police department and the city's Office of Emergency Management.
The new building, designed by FFA Architecture and Interiors and police consulting architect MWL Architects with Skanska USA Building as construction manager-general contractor, will be built to standards that will allow it to withstand a major seismic event.
It also will allow the police department to work more efficiently, Police Captain Eric Oathes said.
Currently, evidence is kept in a location other than the Griffith Drive building. That often means officers have had to travel to more than one location in order to finish writing reports. The new building will offer abundant space to store evidence. Wi-Fi throughout the building, meanwhile, will free officers from desks and allow them to move through the building, include training and holding cell areas, while still able to stay in touch with operations.
For all of the high-tech and custom features on the inside, the building's exterior is designed to look like anything but the traditional digs of a law enforcement agency. In addition to brick and glass, the exterior features screens made from ipe (pronounced ee-pay), a Brazilian hardwood that is one of the most durable woods for outdoor use, FFA project architect Ian Gelbrich said. Articulation of windows on the facade creates a shifting pattern that's echoed in differing grain patterns of the brick.
"One of the best comments I've heard is, 'That doesn't look like a police station,'" Police Chief Jim Monger told a crowd gathered for the project's groundbreaking on Sept. 17.
Weaving the Beaverton Public Safety Center into the fabric of the surrounding community was one of the key directives for the design team, according to Gelbrich. The area where the new public safety center will be located is one of more unique sections of Beaverton. The site sits at the point where several different neighborhoods come together.
"It's quite a melting pot," Gelbrich said.
Beaverton started out as what Gelbrich calls a "classic postwar suburb. "The city now is trying to determine how its moves forward from that status to embrace modern-day needs of a growing population with increasing diversity. Nowhere in the city is that struggle more evident than along Allen Boulevard.
"Allen Boulevard has largely been forgotten," Mayor Denny Doyle said. He and the city's planning department are working to change that.
Planning department staff are currently conducting an extensive study of Allen from Murray Boulevard to the west of the public safety building site to Highway 217 to the east. Doyle said there also are plans under way to bring a city grant program that helps businesses update their interiors and storefronts to retail outlets along Allen.
The new public safety building will sit on a corner of an intersection that has the potential to help lead change in the area, according to Gelbrich.
"One of the conversations early on was how we could leverage the project to act as a catalyst," he said. "That's an overused word, but (the project) really does have that potential here."
With an eye toward encouraging community interaction with the police department, for example, the design for the center features spaces that can be used for community meetings and gatherings. The building also will feature a large, two-story central atrium area.
The interior materials were selected to help create that sense of accessibility. The inside features steel post and beam as well as cross-laminated timber. The latter material was also selected with the purpose of helping control costs of the project.
The exterior skin of a building is always the most expensive part of a structure, Gelbrich said. Using CLT allows a shortening of the height of the building, which reduces the amount of exterior skin, without compromising interior ceiling heights. The material also reduces the amount of labor needed for installation.
Even with those cost cutting steps, the project is already running at least $6 million over the $35 million budgeted. The majority of that overrun is related to increases in building materials prices that have occurred since voters approved a construction bond measure for the project in 2016. The city is looking at ways to cover the additional cost, but compromising the quality or scope of the building aren't options the mayor is willing to consider.
"We're not going to compromise on a 50-year building," Doyle said.
The new public safety building will replace an existing building on the site at Allen and Hall that in the past served as a grocery store, a city library, and most recently a community activities center and intake location for the Beaverton School District. Before demolition on the 40-year-old structure could begin to make way for the public safety center, though, asbestos in the roof had to be removed, a process that required special abatement work.
The site also contains soil contamination caused by leakage from the underground tanks of a gas station on the corner of Hall Street and Allen Boulevard, Gelbrich said.
The city worked with U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D, to obtain a $400,000 brownfield cleanup grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency to address the petroleum contamination. With an eye toward limiting how much soil needs to be removed and hauled away — an approach that would drive up the cost of the project — the project team plans on using a process called phytoremediation, which uses plants to remove contamination from soil.
In the case of the public safety building, trees will be planted along Hall Boulevard where the contamination is located.
"There will be a series of closely spaced trees, almost like an orchard feel toward the front corner of the building," Gelbrich said.
Metal sleeves placed in the ground will direct the roots of the trees to grow deep into the ground rather than spreading out. The roots will then remove contamination from the ground.
"We're trying to mitigate it as we can without fully taking (the contaminated material) out," Gelbrich said.