Tobin Starr + Partners Designs Charlotte Fire Department HQ to Last for Generations


Charlotte, NC - The city’s 42 fire stations are the public face of the 124-year-old department, but the City of Charlotte Fire Department administration will soon have a new headquarters to conduct the public’s business.

Charlotte architecture firm Tobin Starr + Partners is the designer of a new 38,000-square-foot Fire Department headquarters to be built on a five-acre site at the Five Points intersection of Dalton Avenue, Graham Street and Statesville Avenue just north of uptown.

Construction on the $9.5 million facility is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2012 and be complete by the end of 2013.

The new Fire Department headquarters will house offices for the Fire Chief and command staff, fire prevention bureau, the emergency management department, and the information technology department, which maintains data for live routing of fire trucks to every address in the city limits. More than 80 fire department employees will work in the new facility.

“We’re all about foundation, permanence and tradition. This fire department has been here since 1887,” says Rich Granger, Deputy Fire Chief for Administration. “The new headquarters is going to give us a permanent home.”

David Tobin, partner with Tobin Starr + Partners, says the fire department headquarters is designed with an emphasis on elegant simplicity in design, utility and longevity.

The fire department’s current headquarters is on 9th Street in a nondescript, single-story, converted industrial building rented by the city. That office houses the fire department’s command staff, IT department and emergency management staff. Fire prevention is housed at a separate facility on 7th Street.

Tobin Starr + Partners will provide planning, architecture, interior design and construction administration services on the new purpose-built headquarters that supports a broad range of fire department functions.

The brick, stone, steel and glass design makes use of traditional as well as high-performance materials, including high-efficiency lighting and heating and cooling systems. The design allows for maximum access to natural daylight and includes five large skylights on the second floor. The building will operate 24-7 and is capable of being fully operational without commercial power in an emergency setting.

“The planning and design approach to the building is conservative,” Tobin says. “There was a conscious acknowledgement and intention that this building could serve the Charlotte Fire Department for many generations to come. We’re trying to achieve a sense of permanence and timelessness.”

One exciting feature will be the inclusion of lobby space designed to display a 1902-era horse-drawn steamer used by the City of Charlotte fire department at the turn of the last century.

A large conference room will serve as a venue for department promotions and double as meeting space.

“The current headquarters is relatively unknown and unremarkable,” Tobin says. “It’s the goal of everyone involved in the design process that the new facility will provide a more dignified and permanent civic presence for the Charlotte Fire Department which the city can be proud of.”

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