• MCA Banner Ad 4 728 x 90
  • Digital - This Space Available
  • MidFirst Bank Banner 728 x 90
  • Coan Payton & Payne 2023 Banner 728 x 90
  • Advanced Exercise 2022 Banner 728 x 90

Aspen Police Department: Applying Great Design to Public Facilities

Located on Main Street, the Aspen Police Department was designed to engage the surrounding residential and mixed-use neighborhood, while reinforcing its wellness-based focus. Courtesy Dallas & Harris Photography


Great design is the result of applying our core principles. Among our guiding principles is that great design is not only efficient, healthy and sustainable, but also is beneficial to the community at large. Whether the restoration of a historic landmark, a state-of-the-art fire station or an affordable housing complex, designing for individuals and families who serve our communities – some of whom risk their lives to do so – is of utmost importance to our firm. In these times, serving our first responders has never been more consequential. We were honored to assist the Aspen Police Department in designing a-state-of-the-art police department in downtown Aspen – a building that is architecturally appropriate within the historic, world-renowned resort town, and a facility designed with a laser focus on wellness and sustainability.

Charles Cunniffe, FAIA
Principal, Charles Cunniffe Architects

Law enforcement services in any community must be structured to serve to the needs of its unique service population. In Aspen, the police department serves a resident population of 7,400, which increases to upwards of 30,000 in both winter and summer with seasonal visitors. In order to appropriately plan the built needs of the Aspen police, our collective team had to quantify specific needs of the services provided by the Aspen Police Department in both the short- and long-term.

The new building had to complement the character of the Aspen community, and appropriately engage Main Street in an open and friendly manner. A public pedestrian connection between Aspen’s historic core and Obermeyer Place, a significant mixed-use development, was integrated into the east border of the site. By justifying the building to the west, a linear green space was developed between the building and the pedestrian connection. This became a significant element, allowing the building’s office spaces to gain daylight and have views towards nature, while beautifying and invigorating the pedestrian experience.

The department’s kitchen is flooded with natural light, and accesses the private outdoor dining deck and barbecue. Courtesy Dallas & Harris Photography

The program for the new building presents open and highly collaborative workspaces, meeting rooms and a variety of casual areas for social and impromptu gathering. The building is organized around a linear core of circulation running from the main street entry through the secure area and to the north exterior. The open linear organization eliminates the tendency of staff compartmentalization. Connected to the public main lobby is a second-floor civic community meeting room (that is also used for training) and exterior deck with views of downtown and Aspen Mountain. Open to the public, the community meeting room and viewing deck are a popular amenity.

Designing for wellness. The Aspen Police Department earned LEED Gold and WELL certification. The facility features cover a wide variety of wellness and sustainability solutions:

• Maximization of daylighting and views towards nature and green spaces;

• The building is acoustically designed for quiet and privacy;

• Flexible workstations allow for standing or seated arrangements;

• Access to outdoor dining and seating;

• Fully outfitted fitness room with private shower rooms, bike and ski storage; and

• Outdoor deck connected to the Community Room with mountain views

Achieving LEED Gold. The LEED approach to this project began in the earliest stages of design. Conceptualization of green and sustainable building systems and materials were integrated and primarily developed overall, rather than on discreet specifications and systems. Once these fundamental design aspects were accounted for, the specifics of systems, products and materials were evaluated toward the building’s total environmental rating system and developed concurrently with each phase of the project. The sustainable components and systems were promoted as essential resources in the design, to emulate a more holistic and integrative process. This enabled the green features to remain integral to the overall design and value.

• Renewable energy is produced on-site by a rooftop 46.9 kW photovoltaic array.

• Fresh air is drawn in from windows at the perimeter of the building and circulated naturally through the spaces using the stack effect.

• Large panes of low-e, triple-pane, bullet-resistant glass and clerestory windows provide natural daylighting, reducing the need for artificial lighting.

• Rainwater is managed on site by planters and a green roof over the open space.

Designing for security. The building has open and clearly articulated public spaces, while carefully planning for the safety of staff and visitors utilizing the building. The front of the building presents a calming entry sequence, with a generous public plaza that offers a generous setback from Main Street. Vehicle ram protection is provided by landscape and planter features. The building cladding materials were selected for durability and security. All-weather staff and fleet parking is provided beneath the building and offers access to two separate streets. Patrol lockers, fitness areas, secure evidence, and officer equipment and supply storage spaces are located separately from spaces where a visitor would travel.

Large bullet-proof, operable windows provide views of nature, ample natural light and passive ventilation. Courtesy Dallas & Harris Photography

There are spaces adjacent to the public lobby where officers may conduct business in confidence with visitors. There are specific areas where a juvenile may wait for parents, and there is a dedicated mother’s room. All spaces are positioned to assure security of the persons of interest brought to the station along with any articles of evidence to be examined or retained. Utility services, air-supply locations and all building infrastructure are protected. With the building operating 24 hours per day, there is a constant presence of officers on site. This is further supported by new affordable housing for officers that CCA has designed to share the new police site.

CCA received an Academy of Architecture for Justice award from the American Institute of Architects, a Gold Nugget Merit Award.

Published in the June 2020 issue of Building Dialogue.

Edited by Building Dialogue