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Featured Building - October 2021

Updated: Oct 5, 2021

Dutchess County Law Enforcement Center

Photo Credit: Don Cochran Photography

The County decided to purchase the former manufacturing facility properties constructed in 1911 adjacent to their current Sheriff Office to relocate and build their new, innovative 57,600 sf Law Enforcement Center.

Located near the Poughkeepsie Walkway-Gateway District and being located in the G-OM Zoning District, the county legislature embraced the idea of salvaging portions of the original manufacturing buildings. With revitalization in mind, they made a commitment in a transitional neighborhood to build a new/renovated building with the hopes of being a precedent setting project to stimulate other new growth in the area. With the uniqueness of the manufacturing buildings, the design elements to preserve included the saw-toothed rooflines that originally brought natural light into the space, the original brick inside and out, the industrial terra-cotta parapet caps and maintaining the large industrial window openings.

The design of the new facility provides a safe, modern, code compliant and efficient environment for the two important elements of the building identified in the Schematic Report; Public Service and back-of–house Law Enforcement business. The components that have public service functions include the Public Lobby, Civil & Records Division, Pistol Permits, and Community Training Room.

The Sheriff also needs to be accessible to the public with visitor access to private offices and work areas within the Sheriff’s Administrative suite. These areas must be monitored and controlled while maintaining an atmosphere of dignity and respect for the public. Back-of–house restricted areas include functions such as, Communications and Dispatch, Road Patrol, Detectives’ Offices and Evidence Processing/Storage, Staff Training and Staff Support areas. The Road Patrol Division includes an Arrest Processing Area, which must be maintained as a separate secure area within the building. This Arrest Processing Area conforms to and is approved by the mandates of the NYS Commission of Correction.

AIA’s Framework for Design Excellence

Design for equitable communities: How does the project contribute to creating a walkable, human scaled community inside and outside the property lines?

Sheriff operations and law enforcement is intimately a part of the community. The County and the Sheriff’s Office could have gone off-site or outside of the city limits, but as a partner to the community, made the commitment to stay downtown near their original facility and to salvage portions of the adjacent manufacturing building.

Through the SEQRA process the County held community meetings and visioning sessions with the local neighborhood groups to talk about the elements that would be incorporated into the project, including:

Pedestrian friendly landscaping and sidewalks, bike access

Maintaining the short setback to the building to embrace the pedestrian scale

Incorporating landscaping throughout the property and parking areas so local neighbors would not just see vehicles and asphalt

Remove parking from the street and the front of the building and locate the majority behind the building.

A multipurpose community room was also established off the main lobby with the potential of hosting neighborhood meetings, providing law enforcement seminars and/or teaching Sheriff Safety courses to the neighbors.

Design for change: Is the building resilient, and able to easily accommodate other uses in 50 - 100 years?

Being a building that houses the Law Enforcement Center, the functions inside are closely relatable to an office building with a combination of open workstations and walled offices that could easily be converted or repurposed as another office function. The building contains several large multipurpose meeting rooms that could either stay or convert to open workstations. There are a few customized areas, but the square footage of these areas account for 10% of the total building footprint. So with the seismic improvements made to the building, the design and materials utilized do have the flexibility to withstand the test of time and/or reuse.

Design for discovery: What lessons for better design have been learned through the process of the project design, construction, and occupancy, and how have these been incorporated into subsequent projects?

Salvaging portions of a 1911 warehouse had its own challenges, not only from an infrastructure standpoint, but also in evaluating the structural integrity of the 110-year-old timber wood trusses. During the design phase many evaluations went into the existing timbers to determine their integrity and if they could be salvaged and maintained. Due to current building code requirements, a fair amount of structural enhancements would have to be made to them in order to keep this dramatic feature within the project. So while some selective demolition took place in order to view as much of the timbers as possible, the top timber cords could not be viewed without taking the roof off. At the time, the owner was unwilling to take on that expense.

When the roof finally came off during construction it was determined that a substantial amount of dry rot had occurred on many of the top timber cords and would have cost more to continue to try and structurally patch them than it would to replicate them with new timber trusses. The lessons learned are to work with the owners to do enough pre-demolition work, ahead of construction, in order to truly evaluate the existing conditions in order to minimize the risks of change orders and delays during construction. These selective demolition efforts will pay dividends with a higher level quality of design documents that will minimize unforeseen change orders in the future.

General Contractor: Meyer Contracting Corporation

Construction Manager: The Pike Company

Façade Architect: Swartz Architecture, DPC

Plumbing & HVAC Contractor: S & O Construction Services

Electrical Contractor: All Bright Electric

Civil: Morris Associates

Justice Consultant: Voorhis Associates / EKM&P

Furniture Consultant: Vargas Associates

Demolition Contractor: Sessler Wrecking

Photography: Don Cochran Photography

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