Friday, July 17, 2009

What I've Been Up To

Aurora Police Headquarters
(Updated May 2011)

I was born and raised in Oakland California.

Yep. Thats right, I'm 100% East Bay Grease.

Now coming from Oakland we were always reminded that we lived in a city that had far more than its share of problems. There was poverty, racial strife, and serious drug abuse. Oakland even landed as the butt of one of Homer's jokes on the Simpson's. Oakland always lived in the shadow of our spectacular neighbor - San Francisco.

Yet I knew a different Oakland. I knew a city with a lake in the middle of downtown. A city with architecture by Bernard Maybeck and Julia Morgan. A city with terrific sports teams and superb restaurants in Jack London's favorite waterfront haunt. I loved the eucalyptus scented hills, and its much, much, much, better weather than our famous neighbor across the bay. I had amazing neighbors in a diverse neighborhood. I grew up knowing that everybody counts and everybody brings something to the table.

Growing up in Oakland formed me. It made me always pull for the underdog.

For the past few years one my biggest design commissions has been a new police headquarters / courts building for the second largest city in Illinois. Aurora. Aurora lives in the shadow of Chicago. It also has its share of problems. But it is measurably overcoming them one by one. It is the fictitious home of Wayne and Garth of "Wayne's World".

That said, the Aurora I have come to know is filled with George Grant Elmslie's architectural treasures. Its heart is its spectacular riverside setting. Its neighborhoods are lined with real family homes with wide porches on tree lined streets.

Aurora expects a dollar fifteen of value for every dollar it spends. It has brought out the best in me and everyone that has touched this project.

Aurora asked for a building to showcase local products and the very best features of sustainable (Green) design. They wanted the new building to achieve the US Green Building's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold standard. Most cities settle for certified or maybe silver.

Aurora asked for a building that would respect its history.

Now, the Police Headquarters is completed and Aurora's citizens and police are coming to realize they now possess a police headquarters and courts facility that truly has no peer in Illinois.

Aurora's New Police Headquarters Lobby
(Click to Enlarge)

Aurora's New Police Headquarters At Night

Aurora's New Police Headquarters
(Click to Enlarge)

The Three Story Officer's Commons
(Click to Enlarge)

As for me, after almost five years of trips every two weeks to Illinois to work on this and other challenging new projects along the Fox, I can truly say, I've grown to love this place and it's hard working and talented residents.

Thanks Aurora! You are indeed second to none.

Since the new building opened it has garnered a stream of awards.
1. Top Honors (Build to Suit) Chicago Food Bank Design / Building Awards
2. APWA Top Honors Innovations in Civil engineering
3. Official Commissioning Confirms LEED Gold Status 

The building has been featured in numerous publications and May 16-19, 2011 has been selected to host the International Association of Chief's of Police Planning Design & Construction of Police Facilities Class.

Roadboy's Travels © 2009

No comments: