Workforce Safety & Insurance had been renting a three story building in downtown Bismarck, which had originally been a warehouse and had few windows. The firm was asked to review the existing building's condition and to compare costs of purchasing and remodeling the existing building versus the cost of purchasing a lot and constructing a new building. After deciding to proceed with the construction of a new building, we were then asked to evaluate potential sites. The sites were compared based on issues such as soil quality, visibility/location, vehicle access and cost.
WS&I occupies the top two floors of the building. This allows departments that work closely together to be located on the same floor. The first and second floors are occupied by other state agencies, and contain storage rooms and the mechanical room. When the final tenants were confirmed, we met with the five departments and evaluated their needs and designed their spaces for them.
The employee entry is on the first floor on the north side of the building and the public entrance is on the second floor on the front side of the building. The site was partially selected due to its natural slope, which allows "at grade" entrances on two different levels. This was done partially out of security concern, but it also allowed the large amounts of parking to be broken up by the location of the building. The high number of employee parking spaces is "hidden" at the back of the building so that only the relatively few public spots are visible while approaching the building.
The building design incorporates a cellular floor system to make the building as flexible as possible, and feed data and power to the large cubicle areas. The building also has a card key security system and a security camera system.
The exterior of the building is composed of masonry. To visually reduce the mass of the building, we broke the façade in to three distinct parts, with the large glass element in the middle. This glass element allows daylight to the occupants of the building compared to the office's previous building. The two top floors of this glass element on the south side is an atrium with an open stair that connects the third and fourth floors of the building. This atrium provided two important functions. First, it encourages more interaction between departments that are located on different floors. Secondly, it allows natural daylight to penetrate deep into the center of the building, a space that could have been sterile without this element.
The building incorporates many green building elements. The building has undergone a study by the state energy office to be designated Energy Star compliant. The building has 285 geothermal wells 200 feet deep to provide a source for a constant temperature for the heat pump loop instead of gas boilers for heat and a cooling tower for air conditioning. The mechanical system also uses a high efficiency heat recovery unit to use the temperature of exhausted air to moderate the temperature of incoming fresh air. The environmental control systems are computer monitored to allow the owner to continually update and adjust the mechanical system controls. The lighting system uses a low voltage control system that is programmable and uses motion detectors to shut off lights in unoccupied areas of the building. The program allows the lights in the building to be turned off at intervals so lights are not left on after hours wasting resources. The glass in the building is insulated and has a low-e coating to reflect ultraviolet rays to reduce heat gain and deterioration of interior finishes.
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© 2016 Hulsing &
Associates Architects, P.C.