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The Rapid Wealthy Operations Center Expansion

progressive | ae

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Mic Higan, progressive | ae

Project Name

The Rapid Wealthy Operations Center Expansion


300 Ellsworth Ave SW


Project Status


Year Completed



285,000 sq. feet


Interurban Transit Partnership - The Rapid

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Project Description

The project team, through collaboration with our client, established the following three fundamental metrics that shaped the design direction.

Sustainable efficiency in both the architecture and operation of the facility is vital to our client’s vision and brand.

Harvesting natural light is critical to the environmental impact of the facility given that its footprint covers an entire city block, largely for enclosed storage and maintenance of the buses. Large light monitors in the bus storage and maintenance bays, along with a translucent panel system for the north wall of the bus storage maximizes natural light in these spaces to reduce the need for artificial lighting over a large floor area.

Coupled with natural lighting is the use of natural ventilation, which is important for a facility that accommodated a significant amount of indoor operation of buses. This reduces the load on the mechanical systems in providing the necessary fresh air and exhaust required. The mechanical system itself is also energy efficient, employing chilled beams throughout the administrative spaces.

In addition to reducing energy consumed by the mechanical systems, strategic use of architectural products and equipment advanced the energy efficiency of the building envelope. Masonry and metal were chosen for their sustainable characteristics of longevity, and low maintenance. This would ensure the building would stand up to the intense bus operations, while minimizing the life cycle cost of maintaining the building itself. In concert with the durability of brick, we incorporated a textural and color manipulation to the western façade of the building to establish a more desirable scale to the wall. We furthered the manipulation by pulling the brick in and out of the façade to create a wonderful shade and shadow effect. The mortar is colored matched to the dark iron spot brick to create a homogenous wall allowing the brick to create the artistry.
This holds true for the interior as well, where masonry and metal were used strategically as interior surfaces where the increased durability, and aesthetics, were valuable. Masonry is used extensively in the bus storage, maintenance, and body shop areas for its unsurpassed durability. A white roofing membrane is installed both on the existing roof remaining, and the new expansion roof area, having a significant reduction in the heat island effect that could have been caused by a facility with a large roof area. Over the new roof area a 40,000 square foot green roof, which is networked with a series of rain gardens at the ground level to reduce storm water runoff, and offer areas of respite for employees.

To further reduce the potential heat island effect, the parking required for street vehicles, including employee and operations vehicles, is located on a lower level underneath the bus storage, virtually eliminating surface parking. The opportunity to cost effectively provide a lower level parking area stemmed from a natural slope in the site, exposing the lower level to the west, and reducing the amount of excavation.

Equipment associated with bus operations was also selected based on its environmental impact. Bus washing is a daily maintenance program, and the sue of a water reclaim system saves approximately 200 gallons per wash, or almost 9,000,000 gallons of fresh water per year. Additionally, installing high-speed overhead doors for the entry and exiting of buses form the bus storage drastically reduces the time that the doors are open, which mitigates the transfer of cold outdoor air during the winter season, helping the efficiency of preserving the conditioned air in the bus storage.

A human-centered environment that promotes collaboration and empowers employees is important.

The planning for the facility was altered with the renovation and expansion to increase the efficiency in flow of people and buses, which has a positive impact on operations by reducing travel distances for moving buses on site. Clarifying space designated for people and that for buses is expressed in the architecture through the use metal to articulate spaces for people, and masonry to articulate spaces for buses. Masonry was chosen for its durability, essential to the areas where the buses are travelling creating intuitive wayfinding.

In clarifying the flow of staff and buses was achieved in tandem with collocating staff to promote greater interaction, which fosters education and personal connections among employees and with the company. To this end, collective spaces for employees are given prominent locations in the design. A training room occupies the north end, and a shared café space the south end, of the administrative zone affording diffuse natural light and a connection to outdoor gardens. The metal exterior facades were carried to the interior at the main lobby and the café to blur the line between indoor and outdoor space, emphasizing the importance of both to the visitor and employee experience. Attention to the employee experience goes to the core of our client’s desire to be an employer of choice.
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