Project DescriptionConventional fire stations are burdened with medical calls and are unequipped to provide community health care on site. Of all Alameda County Fire Department's service calls, 85% involve medical care. A high proportion of these calls are "frequent fliers," who dial 911 instead of seeing a doctor. Concurrently, the County finds its supply of primary and preventative healthcare inadequate- especially at the community scale.
The Cherryland Fire Station redefines the role of a fire station in a community. It combines the traditional role of a public safety first responder facility with the community serving personal care of a health clinic. While the conventional fire station is emergency response infrastructure, this new typology is community-building civic infrastructure. Its designers collaborated with healthcare nonprofits, the County Health Services Agency, County Fire Department, and Community Development Agency to ensure the design fully reinforces and facilitates a shared operational and civic vision.
The facility's design acts as a framework for encouraging and embracing community engagement. It achieves this in three ways: expanding the public realm, addressing both civic presence and neighborhood fabric, and leveraging fine-grained details.
The expansion of the public realm not only creates public space as an amenity for the community to enjoy, but also reinforces the idea of the facility itself as an amenity. Weaving the expanded public realm into both clinic and fire station spaces creates the intuitive association between the facility and public amenity. The expanded public realm bridges everyday public space with community care and protection.
Neighborhood fabric and civic presence are addressed through a successful combination of two scales: small components and large gestures. The component parts of the program are treated as a series of interconnected and overlapping spaces. In combination, they make up the entire facility but individually, they relate to the varied and clustered single and multi-family residential context. The large gestures- two overarching "portals"- unify the aggregated spaces to project a singular civic identity and presence. They span the public spaces in front and social spaces in back, creating and reinforcing both interior and exterior space.
Underneath the "portals" and populating the expanded public realm, fine-grain details perform necessary functions while dually reinforcing the facility's larger strategy. The truck wash area is adjacent to the public plaza, affording fire fighters the opportunity to be present, visible, and approachable while performing their duties. A continuous seat wall expands the clinic's space to include an exterior waiting courtyard, while another seat wall extends and turns upward to become a monumental sign. A double-height mosaic tile public art wall grabs an edge of the public realm and pulls this space into the fire station lobby. These details reinforce the critical overall spatial relationships of the facility, public realm, and neighborhood.
The facility resulting from these design strategies is a state-of-the-art, 11,800 SF public health and protection building. It architecturally unifies a single company fire station and community clinic into a new building typology that gives visual and spatial language to the Fire Department and Health Services Agency's social vision.