The familiar gable form and fresh landscaping serve as a moment of relief in a harsh industrial environment. Warm, yet durable, materials help foster a sense of respect and pride among patrons.

Public buildings, such as transit centers, are rarely expected to surprise or lend comfort. Rather, they tend toward the utilitarian – designed to withstand a constant onslaught of hard use. RiverCities Transit Center offered TCF the chance to address the intersection of public space and public service from another angle, one of dignity and respect. The goal is to create a space that, while resilient, is designed with human care in mind, providing an oasis in the center of the City of Longview for riders and staff. This space interacts with a wide range of demographics, providing compelling opportunities to create delight and comfort in the daily lives of those who use and operate the City of Longview’s public transportation system.

Perched on the edge of the City of Longview’s downtown core, the site is just under 1-acre, balancing between a human-scaled commercial zone and an industrial area. Likewise, it seems caught between the City’s past, as an industrial center, and its evolving future. Conscious of the need for an efficient building and grounds, TCF started master planning by identifying needs and desires; landing first and foremost on supporting the RiverCities Transit Department’s motto “Safety, Security, Service, and Schedule”. Using these 4 S’s as our guide, we developed our own motto for the project. Simply stated: Design with dignity, and people will respond with dignity.

Our design method focused on using form and material to encourage positive behavioral responses on the site and within the building’s public spaces. The building itself casts a comfortable silhouette, illuminated by the warm terra cotta brick that rises to a steady gable. The overall form reflects a simple abstraction of the familiar residential form, intersected along its length with extrusions in response to programmatic need. The east flank rotates slightly to open on the site’s central plaza. This pure form is punctured by a light well that drops to the interior while north and south faces are cut away to reveal deep set windows wrapped in pale grey wood grain. The lobby face extrudes into the plaza truncating in a smooth glass face to welcome the public. The plaza, bordered to the west by bus shelters and to the right by the building, is dotted with monolithic planters to bring life to a sea of hardscape.

Pale plywood wraps the interior of the publicly accessible lobby, flowing smoothly from walls to ceiling, lending the warmth of natural material.  Punctuated by elongated windows, the double height space is washed with daylight. Private spaces, work area, and offices offer calming workspaces as a respite for office staff and bus drivers. The linear floorplan terminates with a wellness area, also wrapped in plywood, that opens to allow occupants to enjoy fresh air and daylight during their work day.

The cumulative effect of these design moves is a familiar space interspersed with moments of colorful and tactile delight to craft a space that both soothes and inspires. The facility is designed to foster a sense of calm, dignity, and delight for those who ride and work within the public transportation system.