New TOWNE HALL and Police Building for Warren Township, NJ

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The largest of several projects our firm completed for Warren Township, NJ over the years. This one houses the new Town Hall and Police Department.

Warren Township, NJ has its municipal, police, and public works department as well as ball fields, playgrounds, and hiking trails on this multi-acre property. Prior to this project, we were commissioned by the township to design and re-purpose what had previously housed the town library (originally built as a residential structure) into a courtroom and police wing. Years later, when the township could no longer efficiently and safely operate from a different 100-year old wood frame 2-story building on the property, we were commissioned to design a new Towne Hall and Police Department expansion. 

Working with the township administrator, we met with, and interviewed each department head performing an audit to determine a program and overall building square footage which yielded a total of 26,000. Also working with the town administrator, it was determined which department required a physical location adjacent to other departments for daily functioning.

The site the new building would occupy created a few challenges. The existing police department was occupying a one-story building which had its public entrance about 5 feet lower than the property occupied by the other three municipal buildings. Visitors were required to park at the higher level and walk down outdoor stairs to get to the entrance. This entrance had to be maintained and housed within the new building. Since the higher elevation was also where the parking areas were as well as the landscaped courtyard visually connecting all the buildings, it made sense to locate the new main entrance at the elevation of the courtyard as this is also what’s visible from the main street. Another design hurdle was the fact that the new 26,000 square foot building had to physically be attached to the much older wood-framed courtroom and police building. A fire separation wall assembly had to be carefully designed so the old and new structures would be connected, however, separated.

The allowable site area we had to design the new building on, was bordered on all four sides by elements that had to remain. On the south side (rear) was the public works department and police vehicle access driveway. To the east were the existing courtroom and current police department building. To the west was a parking area that had to remain, and to the north or front was the courtyard and old municipal building which was to remain standing. The remaining footprint dictated the design of a 3-story building. Because of the site constraints and topography, the new main entrance was located at the courtyard ground level which would place its floor level roughly midway between the lower level police wing and the new second floor. A readily identifiable glass entrance feature was designed which provided a vestibule for the new lobby and which would be illuminated and easily seen at night.

An acoustical arch ceiling was designed for the entrance which led into the new multi-level lobby with elevator. Upon entering the lobby, a visitor would quickly identify where in the building their destination was by finding each department on a continually updated large image electronic display screen. Large signage on the wall also identified where the Police entrance was on the half level below.

Located on the lower first floor is the Police public entrance as well as a private police entrance, Police men’s and women’s locker and shower rooms, a K-9 room, police meeting and training rooms, the township’s Emergency Management Room, a Records storage room, local TV studio, and Receiving room. On the second and third floors are all the municipal departments accessed by a central hallway. A design request of the town was that any visitor should be able to enter the access corridors, and very easily and quickly locate where each department was. The town did not want a corridor of “closed doors” for each department. Our design solution was to carve out “milling spaces” for each department by recessing these spaces from the corridor’s thoroughfare. This allowed visitors to move out of the circulation space and into the designated department area’s reception counter. Highly visible department identification signage was designed and located on internally LED illuminated corridor piers, each department having its own pier. On the third floor, we designed a 60-foot-long gable shaped skylight for the entire length of the corridor. The skylight floods the interior below, including each department with natural light 12 months a year and many employees have said they loved working in this space. To capture and allow this natural light to continue down to the second floor, we designed the third floor’s corridor with a glass floor.

As the construction budget cost was very limiting, cost-effective construction methods and materials were researched and included in our design and construction documents. The first-floor exterior walls were subterranean for most of its perimeter which meant these walls had to be retaining walls. We specified 12” wide masonry units which arrived at the site internally insulated and colored and textured on the exterior and colored and smooth on the interior, thereby eliminating the need to construct another insulated wall on the interior. The second and third floors are constructed with a structural steel frame, open web steel bar joists, and metal deck with concrete fill floors. All interior and exterior walls are cold form metal studs with the exterior walls being insulated. Exterior walls are finished with E.I.F.S. (exterior insulation and finish system) stucco providing an additional layer of insulation. Economical vertical and horizontal control and expansion joints were designed in the stucco to create a rhythm of interesting lines on the building’s exterior. Because we specified LED lighting throughout, the electric load was reduced allowing the entire building, including heating and cooling, to be serviced by a generator in case of emergency. Although the roof was designed to be flat for economics and to house the HVAC equipment, the town wanted the building to have a sloping roof so it appeared more “residential”. This was achieved by the use of “mansard” shingled roofs.

All exterior and interior materials, finishes, colors, equipment, and fixtures were designed and selected by our firm. The project went out to bid with 17 construction companies submitting bids, all coming in within 5% of the cost. The entire project came in just under budget.

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Scottsdale, AZ / Warren, NJ

34522 N. Scottsdale Road

Suite 120-215

Scottsdale, AZ 85266

(480) 474-4184


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