Design Award Entries

Rogers Emergency Dispatch Center

The new Rogers Emergency Dispatch Center in Rogers, Arkansas serves the city of Rogers and all of Benton County with this multipurpose facility that consists of a fully hardened emergency dispatch portion that meets ICC500 codes for storm shelters and an unhardened portion for multi-purpose/training, equipment bays, and auxiliary police operations. The project also includes a hardened existing communications equipment room in a separate support building that meets ICC500 codes.

Project Statement

The City of Rogers and the Rogers Police Department had critical need for a new Emergency Dispatch Center that could safely house all the emergency dispatch personnel and operations that serve the City of Rogers, as well as all of Benton County, while also providing spaces for multi-purpose/training, equipment apparatus bays, and auxiliary police operations.

The 14,700 SF project was separated into two ideals of program. One consisted of a 6,100 SF fully hardened portion of the facility that meets ICC500 codes to provide uninterrupted dispatch and emergency operations in a severe weather event, including the ability to withstand an EF5 tornado. This presented the design challenge of providing an extremely high level of structural integrity, while finding a cost-efficient means to accomplish this goal. The design choice was made to use concrete over composite deck roof and precast concrete panels. The precast concrete panels were manufactured, shipped, and erected onsite to reduce the amount of formwork, labor, and onsite coordination required. This allowed for a shortened construction timeline which was imperative for expeditiously providing protection for the dispatch personnel.

The remaining 8,600 SF is an unhardened portion of the project that allows multi-purpose/training, equipment apparatus bays, and auxiliary police operations to be housed within the same overall facility, while not required for emergency dispatch or operations in a severe weather event or other natural disaster. This, along with the design choices of metal stud exterior walls, architectural metal panels, and aluminum “wood” siding, reduced the overall cost of the project and maintenance requirements for the City.

Another requirement of the project was to enclose and harden an existing communications radio equipment room housed within a separate existing support building to the same ICC500 codes as the Dispatch area. This separate 700 sf enclosure required a different design and material approach to harden the existing communications room efficiently and cost-effectively. This was performed while maintaining uninterrupted communications services and working within and through the existing walls and spaces of an existing metal building structure. Reinforced and fully grouted concrete masonry units and concrete over composite deck roof was used because it was more cost efficient for this existing structure. Using smaller building units that could be maneuvered within and around the existing structure achieved this goal.

The overall form of the building was influenced by the context of the small site. The exterior west walls of the dispatch areas were angled to anchor the building into the site with the existing angle of the adjacent court facility attached to the current police department headquarters; the remainder of the building is parallel with the access drive on the east side of the site. The two portions were then interlocked like puzzle pieces, and the unhardened portion was extruded up to provide the required amount of space within the site. This wedge form allowed the building to be sited as close as possible to the existing radio room and communications tower while also allowing for the required ingress and egress of the vehicles that are housed in the equipment apparatus bay.

The use of material articulation on the exterior was chosen to emphasize the difference in the functions of the two portions. The lower dispatch areas utilize horizontal articulation with board form textured concrete to accentuate the perception of a solid low center of gravity for the hardened portion of the building. Vertical articulation using architectural metal panels and horizontal aluminum “wood” siding were used to convey a lighter feel for the unhardened portion. Shadow boxes at the wall fenestration in the unhardened areas were used to give a sense of thickness to the exterior walls to tie them back to the overall facility to give the entire building a sense of presence.

The project was completed in Spring of 2021.

AIA Arkansas