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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 the patrons.
Public buildings such as transit centers are rarely expected to surprise or lend comfort, rather they tend towards the utilitarian – designed to withstand a constant onslaught of abuse. RiverCities Transit Center offered us 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, alike.
The space interacts with a wide range of demographics, posing a variety of challenges and opportunities to create a modicum of 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, our site balances 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 site, we started the master planning by a process of identifying needs and desires; landing first and foremost on the desire to support the River Cities Transit Department’s motto of 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 as charcoal grey brick rises to a steady gable. The overall form reflects a simple abstraction of the familiar gable, intersected along its length with extrusions in response to programmatic need. The east flank rotates slightly to open to the site’s central plaza. The 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 alike. 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. If the facility can create a space of calm, dignity and delight, even just for a moment in the lives of those who ride and work within the public transportation system, then we will have been successful.
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