SALT LAKE CITY -- Salt Lake City police and fire leaders gave city officials a daunting task when the city set out four years ago to design and construct a new $125 million police and fire headquarters downtown: Build an open and inviting building that is safe, energy-efficient and not a closed-off fortress.
The result is a modern building that looks more like a museum than a cop shop. It has been given an emphatic seal of approval by police and fire leaders giddy about moving into new digs next month.
The front of the four-story building is made of flowing glass windows that give the building an open, sunlit feel inside. Solar panels are embedded atop a curving entry canopy and on the roof. A bronze sculpture of giant cupped hands sits in the lawn in the front plaza, part of $1.1 million in public art at the facility.
"It's open, it's light, you feel a welcoming environment," said Salt Lake City Fire Chief Kurt Cook. "That lends itself to morale."
But it's still plenty secure, the chiefs say. The glass is triple pane and blast-proof and there is a 75-foot buffer around the building and 52 giant shock absorbers throughout the building that officials say would ensure the facility moves and sways, but doesn't fall, during an earthquake up to 7.5 in magnitude.
Work spaces inside are open and designed to promote communication. All the detectives work in one room and police and fire administrations are on the same floor. They were all split up at the old building.
"This building was built specifically to match our culture," said Salt lake City Deputy Police Chief Tim Doubt.
The building took two years to design and two years to build -- paid for by a bond passed in 2009 by Salt Lake City voters. It was designed by GSBS Architects and built by Okland Construction.
City officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday and will offer free tours to the public Saturday through July 27. Police and fire departmwents move in starting Aug. 1.
The new building houses police and fire administration, newly consolidated 911 dispatchers for both police and fire, and the emergency operations division. There is also a gym, police and fire museum, a high-tech room for media briefings and a plaza that can be used for public festivals.
Everything is high-tech, including a 77-microtile video screen that is two stories high in the emergency operations room so hundreds of police and fire officials can gather during major emergencies or operations.
Project manager Chad Jones said the facility will produce as much energy as it uses thanks to 1.7 megawatts of solar energy coming from solar panels on the building and at an offsite location.
It is heated with radiant floors and cooled by a chilled beam system that was expensive but will pay itself off in energy savings in 10 years, Jones said. Employees are no longer allowed to use personal refrigerators, coffee pots or space heaters at their desks.
Jones said the building plays off the design of the $65 million Salt Lake City library, which is across the street and opened in 2002.
"They didn't want to mimic it, but they wanted to continue that design style," Jones said.
The views are spectacular from the third and fourth of the new building, especially from the personal balconies built for the police and fire chief. Police Chief Chris Burbank has a view of the Wasatch Mountains while Cook gets a panorama of the Salt Lake City skyline.
"I'm certainly impressed with the view I have, I'll say that," Cook said.