Text description provided by the architects. As you approach the Dickinson Public Safety Center from the south, a sweeping earthen-toned wall emerges from the gentle rolling hillside. The building is nestled in a wide-open landscape on the edge of a growing community. As daylight fades, the dark façade gives way to two luminous boxes, a symbol of the two departments housed within that serve to protect the citizens of Dickinson, North Dakota.
The concept for the Dickinson Public Safety Center was inspired by both the local Native American history and Dickinson’s nickname, ‘The Western Edge’. A conceptual ‘edge’ element evolved into a large, curved wall – a nod to the Mandan ‘on a slant’ villages that had been thoughtfully protected from nearby water by tall, rounded fences. The topography of the site and the undulating curves of the stream signified this connection, and the curve became central to the building’s design.
In contrast to the opacity of the arced wall, glassy orthogonal elements convey the importance of the interior programmatic functions. The transparent apparatus bays penetrate through the corten-clad surface, allowing fire operations to be highly visible and showcased to onlookers. Further to the east, the wall opens up to reveal the glazed lobby area and create a dynamic public entry. The lobby is pulled back from the curved wall, inviting visitors to walk through the partition and be welcomed into the facility’s public component. At the entry to the west and the courtyard, sections of the curved wall are turned perpendicular to create dramatic openings for staff using secure portions of the facility.
This combined fire and police facility includes 42,501 SF of individual entity and shared-use space, including space available for public use. Dickinson Public Safety Center’s construction is unique in that it thoughtfully combines traditional construction with a pre-engineered metal building. The materials used for the building were chosen in order to accomplish the city’s desire for an ‘iconic’ building that fit the surrounding landscape and enhanced the local context. The weathered steel exterior was chosen for its gritty, yet beautiful, patina as it ages through the years. This public safety facility was designed to be both beautiful and efficient, and to serve the city of Dickinson far into the future.