Sunday, July 21, 2013

Salt Lake City's New Public Safety Building

Finishing It Up!

For much of the past almost four years I have been working on a new Fire and Police Headquarters for Salt Lake City. 

This project means a lot to me. We were honored to work with exceptionally talented architects in Salt Lake and had a great client. It had superb leadership from the user group and it's project management team.

It also had a wonderful and incredibly devoted contractor orchestrating the skills and talents of literally hundreds of skilled tradespeople.

Very quickly the people involved at every level became special to me.

The building now nearing completion has refocused the way I approach public safety architecture. It occurred coincidentally with my life's greatest personal heartache / turmoil to date. Perhaps focusing on it was medicinal. 

All I know is the finished product is truly unique, and it is almost ready for its lucky new occupants. 

So what sets it apart?

It is amazingly sustainable and (I believe) will likely become the first major Police and Fire HQ of its size to achieve the distinction of US Green Building LEED Platinum. 

It is durable and secure being one of the first public building's in the US to incorporate seismic dampening technology (the dampeners look like giant shock absorbers throughout the building).

Here, take a look!

Salt Lake's New Public Safety Building

The building houses Salt Lake's Emergency Communications Center, Emergency Operations Center, K-9 team, Motorcycles, Bike Squad, Investigative and SWAT teams. It also offers community meeting and in service training rooms, the Salt Lake Information Center (continuous multi-media monitoring center), a Fitness Center, Records and a police museum.

The New K-9 Facilities

The New Traffic Motorcycle Garage

The building has green roofs, lots of photovoltaic cells (with a goal of achieving "Net Zero"). Its floors provide radiant heat. Its ceilings use chilled beam technology for cooling.

Roof Surfaces are "Green" and Planted 
(Here 911 Communicators Will Have Access to the Roof for Breaks)

The Entrance Canopy Uses Photovoltaic Cells to Generate Power

Nearly every employee in the building will have a view of daylight from their workspace. Many conferencing rooms are furnished without tables to encourage open dialogue.

Conferencing Centers

The Community Meeting Room

Public Spaces are Purposely Transparent and Open

Substantive public art pieces are located inside and out. In addition heritage photos for police and fire are etched on steel and displayed throughout. 

History is Celebrated

Open Hands Symbolize Devotion to Community Service

Salt Lake has much to be proud of. It is an incredibly livable city. It has dynamic arts, world class academics, a new and very efficient light rail system, and a thriving urban core. It can now add the finest public safety headquarters in North America to that list.

Chief Burbank Welcomed Staff and Citizens 
During Dedication Ceremonies 
Far from the current practice of government buildings that are designed with the singular goal of low first cost, Salt Lake has instead invested in an efficient, open, durable, and low energy 24/7/365 building. This has resulted in an exceptional working environment that will deliver low operating costs year in and year out for the decades to come. 

In doing so, it has set a new standard of excellence.

Roadboy's Travels © 2013  

Friday, July 19, 2013

The St. Regis Deer Valley

A Luxe Mountaintop Retreat 

I travel almost every week for business. Since my clients are government agencies, my hotel stays are usually in modest hotels (yeah I'm a taxpayer too!)

Now and then, however, I take a vacation day and splurge on something special. This week I joined some old friends for a stay in the new St. Regis in Deer Valley Utah.

In winter Deer Valley is the luxe end of American skiing. Snowboards are not allowed, mountain dress codes are enforced, valets assist with parking and carrying your ski gear. Multi-million dollar residences line its runs offering the 1% ski-in / ski-out accommodations. This is where the flared nostril set skis. 

In summer Park City and Deer Valley become lovely oases of calm graced with blue skies and alpine flora. Many nights are finished by gentle little storms. In summer mountain bikes take over the cat tracks.

For 30 years the prestige address at Deer Valley has been the sublime 5-Star, 5-Diamond Stein Eriksen lodge. In the past few years it has been joined by The Montage and the St. Regis.

Over at the family friendly Canyons Resort, a new Waldorf Astoria has joined the Grand Summit and Miners Club offering luxury ski-in / ski-out accommodations.

The St. Regis

To reach the St. Regis you drop off your car at the hotel's big stone porte cochere, then ride a leather upholstered funicular up the mountain to the hotel itself. The reason is because the hotel is actually located in a residential community that lies behind two sets of guard gates. Note however, when your car is delivered to you at check out it will be at the hotel itself. This allows you to take a drive in neighborhoods and enjoy breathtaking views that would otherwise be impossible for mere mortals to gain access to.  

The View From the Hotel Funicular

The Funicular Arrives at the Hotel

Once you arrive at the hotel, the journey leading to reception desk is tortured. Lots of walking up and down stairs. There is just way too much "sense of arrival."

As with many of the newer luxury resort accommodations, the St. Regis offers hotel rooms plus ultra-luxe 2-3 and 4 bedroom private residences (complete with private elevators and butler service).

My check-in / check-out was smooth and my room, being one of the smallest and most modest lodgings in the hotel, was just off the lobby on the first floor.

Albeit small, my room was lovely and filled with nice touches. The shower was cavernous. The soaking tub was perfect. The wardrobe contained an umbrella and there was a dock for my I-phone.

Large Well Appointed Bathrooms

The Bathroom Mirror Conceals a Cute Little TV  

Perfect Nightly Turndown Service

The grounds are especially beautiful. There is a two level play pool and 2 spas. The hotel offers a complementary evening champagne reception. Also, each evening at the outdoor fire pits, you'll find all the makings you need to create smores.  ;-)

Cozy Fire Pits

The Pool Area

Chaises on the Mountaintop

Otherwise Inaccessible Views From the Mountaintop

The main restaurant delivered friendly and competent service. My steamed mussels were tasty. But my tiny $36 slice of halibut was as dry as the Sahara; heresy to a former Alaskan.

Another pet peave. When room rates approach $400 / night charging extra for internet service is absurd. The fact that the St. Regis internet was crap ground more salt into that wound.

The St. Regis is part of Starwood hotels. There are a few shops, a fitness area and the Remede spa. Evenings in summer you may find yoga classes and free concerts at the base lodge. 

Roadboy's evening at the St. Regis Deer Valley was much enjoyed. next visit to Park City will likely find me checking back into the Stein Eriksen Lodge or perhaps giving the new Montage on Empire Pass a try.

Roadboy's Travels © 2013

Friday, July 5, 2013

Austin's LBJ Presidential Library

Celebrating Achievement In An Era of Dysfunction

I spent much of this week on a business trip to Austin Texas.  I am very fond of Austin. It is a big brash, diverse, exuberant city filled with music, academics and art. 

It's sense of humor is exemplified perfectly by its unofficial motto "Keep Austin Weird!"

With meetings complete, I had a bit of spare time this morning before my flight home. Being the 4th of July I was unsure what sightseeing options I might have. So local friends confirmed for me that the LBJ Presidential Library would be open.

As soon as you enter friendly staff provide a big Texas welcome and offer instructions how to best experience the library.

The LBJ Library and Presidential Archives

LBJ was a big, wickedly smart and frequently crude man. There was nothing subtle about him. As a young teacher in a segregated school he witnessed bigotry and poverty first hand. As a senator he worked tirelessly acquiring senatorial power. Once he had it he used his power to mete out unbearable pressure on anyone who got in his way.

As vice president fate compelled him to grasp the loose ends of one of America's most charismatic presidencies and create a presidency of his own.

LBJ rose to the task. He consolidated power and when he ran for the presidency won 98% of the popular vote. Using his power and brute strength in his 6 years in office he delivered powerful legislation, and lots of it; more legislation than any president before or since.

Dedicated in 1971 the LBJ Library is big and brutal. I find its proportions to be quite awkward and uncomfortable. Conceived to be monumental, it is really as much sculpture as building. It is oblivious to human scale. Visitors are challenged to simply find its tiny front door. It could be a backdrop for the original Star Wars movie. 

Perhaps, its uneven architectural character reflects the big, brutish, hardworking man it celebrates.

Once inside, space goes from claustrophobic to grand with a peculiar visitor flow. You go from low spaces to an enormous space. Then after completing some exhibits you must locate an obscure elevator for the trip to the 10th floor (the floor that floats above the Great Hall) to complete the visit.

The displays themselves are very good. They capture LBJ's era marvelously.

Four Floors of Presidential Papers / Archives

The Main Staircase

Rant Alert
For me the visit was bittersweet. LBJ believed in government and he effectively used its power. He championed legislation to aid the elderly, children and the poor. He steamrolled the landmark Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. He created a cabinet position for housing and urban development, established Medicare, Headstart, actionable environmental legislation and funds for urban mass transit. During his presidency poverty was cut in half.

LBJ challenged us to become a "Great Society" saying:
"The Great Society asks not how much, but how good; not only how to create wealth, but how to use it; not only how fast we are going, but where we are headed. It proposes as the first test for a nation: the quality of its people." 

By comparison many of today's politicians hide behind rhetoric stating that government is inherently bad. It allows them to do nothing. Heck, the most recent congress took 38 "symbolic" votes on the very same meaningless "legislation" (calling for the recall the Affordable Care Act), yet they allowed mindless across-the-board sequestration cuts to take place.

Instead of building a future, they gut LBJ era programs that for four decades have benefitted the poor, elderly and disenfranchised.

While claiming we can't afford social programs, they renewed $38 billion in tax breaks for big oil, and expanded benefits to special interests. They increased their own lifetime health benefits and created new tax breaks exclusively benefitting the (already) richest members of our society.

If LBJ's test for a nation is how it nurtures the "quality of its people", this generation of "leadership" is a complete failure. Congress has presided over the rapid expansion of poverty, pushed for the evaporation of our middle class, ignored surging infant mortality rates and looked at the ground while hunger rates surge among the old and young.

History will eviscerate them.

Singing with Friends

The library, however, does not shy away from LBJ's failings. It narrates LBJ's hatred of communism, overconfidence in American military power and corresponding massive escalation of the Viet Nam war. He misjudged it and slowly realized his legacy would now own this failed war. His war legacy is clearly illustrated by the heartbreaking display of thousands of dogtags in the great hall.

Although Johnson knew when he had power and was rarely afraid to use it, he also demonstrated the true test of power; knowing when to relinquish it. As he realized that his position on the war was making him completely ineffective, he deliberately, and dramatically, stepped away from a run for a second full term.

Dogtags From The 35,000 Texans Killed in Viet Nam

LBJ's Oval Office is Replicated

As my visit continued I appreciated the insight the library provided into the life of Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Taylor Johnson. Recipient of both of America's two highest civilian honors The Presidential Medal of Freedom, and The Congressional Gold Medal, "Bird" was a women of amazing intellect, integrity and drive. Clearly Lady Bird proved herself to be one of America's smartest and most effective first ladies.

Lady Bird's Office is Also Replicated 
(Complete With Her Trademark "Can Do" Desk Sign)

Tony Lama Boots With the Presidential Seal

The Presidential Limo

No one knew LBJ better than Lady Bird. She summed up her husband as "A good man to have at your side when times get rough". 

While history has proven her right, I contend with conviction that the same may be said for her.

Practical Stuff:

• Hours:
9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

• Parking:
It is free. There is a lot of construction going on in and around the library. Highway signs currently direct you to a closed parking lot. Just drive to the east side of the facility (along the freeway) and there is a  temporary parking lot next to the Briscoe Center for American History (which is a destination of its own.)

• Recommended Donation:
Until recently this was the only presidential library with free admission. Presently a voluntary donation is suggested ($8 for adults, $5 seniors, $3 children). The library is transitioning and will soon charge an admission.

• Webiste: The LBJ Library

Roadboy's Travels © 2013