As first responders for our communities, firefighters and EMTs require efficient and high-functioning facilities to prepare for inevitable community emergencies. Maplewood, MN had an outdated 40-year-old fire station, and after several years of strategic planning the city identified a course for the development of a new fire station, culminating in the North Fire Station.
The new 30,000 sq ft station has enough capacity for 11 firefighters and paramedics at a time and houses the department’s administrative offices. The facility includes a workout area, comfortable living spaces for 24-hour shifts, and a large community room with a rooftop deck. On the lower level, an ICC 500 storm shelter was constructed as a safe location for the station’s occupants during weather emergencies.
Original plans involved constructing the fire station using traditional masonry to achieve the city’s desired design of bricks with metal feature accents. During planning it was identified that on-site masonry would require large beams to support the large garage door frames, while less expensive prefabricated spandrels could instead be used over the doors if prefabricated concrete was used as the building solution. Ultimately, Wells was selected for the final building solution – utilizing a formliner with thin brick to meet the design aesthetic – while providing a lower price tag for the project.
The City of Maplewood had a vision for the station’s design – incorporating old-school fire station colors of charcoal and ash gray, complemented by fire engine red and brown. The load-bearing architectural wall panels are a tan base, with brown accent bricks recessed ½” to create depth, and metal panels installed on top. The entrance doors into the main garage bay are bordered with bricks cast into the precast panels in a way that makes the thin brick look authentically mason laid. Inside the large garage bay, exposed precast walls are painted and utilized as a necessary durable hard surface. The workout area also features exposed precast, painted white with bright red accents. In place of steel, the floors are comprised of cost-effective Hollowcore plank.
Wells applied innovative techniques to achieve the design features on the fire station while staying within budget. On the back end of the building, Wells cast the smaller garage doors and second floor windows into 14-foot-wide wall panels during manufacturing; the wider panel eliminates more expensive joints and pieces otherwise required to frame an opening. A similar technique was used on the front of the building where the panels were manufactured slightly wider with punched openings for windows. The wider panels allowed the window to be formed within the panel without the need for additional costly pieces.
This modern fire station showcases a variety of prefabricated concrete benefits, including the architectural solutions Wells has to offer. With advanced features and updated amenities, the North Fire Station is an important and valuable hub to keep the community of Maplewood safe and protected.