AIA-awarded Nebraska police station designed for safety, hospitality

An Omaha Police Department (OPD) station, recipient of the 2022 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Nebraska excellence in design award, exhibits a design combining community engagement and the safety of police officers.

The 3,345-m2 (36,000-sf) facility designed by the national firm, LEO A DALY, built to serve the city’s West Precinct, houses three police units, including emergency response, traffic investigations, and patrol.

The design, with a predominant use of glass, brick, metal, and wood in a subdued palette, embodies the principles of community policing and occupant safety, creating a welcoming and secure facility.

The building is divided into two distinct areas—a public-facing zone that promotes openness and collaboration, and a secure zone that prioritizes safety. The choice of materials and architectural elements distinguishes these zones. The sections facing the street—featuring a glass curtainwall—are transparent and cooperative, reflecting the ideals of community policing. Inside, wooden features elegantly guide the public toward the service desk, community meeting room, and workstations. In addition, an outdoor pocket-park with a concrete “seating wall” serves a dual purpose, incorporating protective barriers, benches, site walls, and trees for both security and aesthetics.

To address the common concerns of “targeting” faced by police departments across the country, the interior work areas have been designed to eliminate visibility and still allow natural light to enter through high windows.

Behind the scenes, there are functional details that are not readily apparent to most people. Wide corridors have been incorporated to prevent individuals from obstructing the hallways, and discreet “distress” signals have been strategically placed throughout the facility as well. The work areas have been equipped with durable, industrial finishes to withstand the demands of police work in any weather conditions.

One notable feature is the flexibility of the spaces within the precinct. Conference rooms and command offices have been designed with identical dimensions, allowing for easy adaptation to evolving needs and accommodating staff growth over time. Similarly, the community room has been designed to serve multiple purposes, capable of hosting press conferences, boy scout gatherings, and neighborhood watch meetings. The multipurpose rooms have also been equipped to facilitate various types of training sessions.

“This award validates a design approach that places the human experience at the very center. Our design for the new OPD precinct attends to the physical safety of officers, while maintaining a welcoming civic expression to the community. This duality guided every element of the design, from its expressive shape and warm materials to the many layers of security that help keep officers safe,” says Chris Johnson, AIA, managing principal of LEO A DALY’s Omaha studio.

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