As the Charlotte Area continues to see booming population growth with increasing urban population densities and sprawling rural areas, the demand for public safety services is also increasing – posing new sets of challenges.
Charlotte added more residents last year than all but 10 cities in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and the suburbs are growing at an equally fast pace. Harrisburg, Huntersville, Mint Hill, Charlotte, Cornelius, Indian Trail, Davidson and Concord – all more than doubled the state’s 6.4 percent growth rate since 2010.
Charlotte and its suburbs must keep up with this growth while still prioritizing the safety and security of each person. Of importance is the increased need for well-designed, impactful new emergency facilities and the revitalization of aging facilities.
Growing Populations Spur Demand for New and Improved Public Safety Facilities
Three local Charlotte-based firms, Stewart, Edifice, Inc. and ADW Architects, are especially involved in many public safety infrastructure projects in Charlotte and the surrounding region.
Stewart is an interdisciplinary design, engineering and planning firm, leading structural engineering in the projects. ADW Architects, an architecture, planning and interior design firm, leads the architecture and Edifice, Inc., a full-service commercial contractor based in Charlotte leads construction.
“As growth continues in the metro area and surrounding communities, so does the need for quick and efficient first-responder services,” said Keith Carlyon, senior principal at ADW Architects. “New and renovated public safety facilities are critical in providing these services.”
As populations grow in the metro area, so do the number of buildings and individuals served by one station. Similarly, as rural areas sprawl across further distances, so does the distance that emergency responders need to travel after leaving the station. “Every second counts in an emergency, and it’s important for police, fire and medical crews to have realistic distances and population densities in which to travel and respond,” said Carlyon.
Centralized Services Improve Quality of Care and Allocation of Resources for MEDIC
To keep up with the population density increases, Mecklenburg County is centralizing the facility of its Emergency Medical Services (EMS) agency, MEDIC. Centralized facilities house major departments under one roof. “MEDIC in Mecklenburg County highlights the steps we are taking to help create a safer, stronger community,” said Lance Williams, manager of structural engineering at Stewart.
Stewart, ADW Architects and Edifice, Inc. played an integral role in the development of MEDIC’s new facilities that officially opened earlier this year in Charlotte. MEDIC is the busiest 9-1-1 EMS agency in the state of North Carolina. Its new facilities are a unique example of centralization, as all services are now centrally located, including the administrative headquarters, operations, training, 911 dispatch, fueling station and vehicle maintenance departments. MEDIC’s centralization has increased efficiencies, including allowing for the quick service of ambulances and other critical vehicles as they come in, making them ready for the next shift.
“The centralization of this facility helps streamline processes – from vehicle maintenance to training of crews. This, in turn, provides improved care to the community and saves money by increasing efficiency in operations and eliminating the need for separate buildings for each department,” said Williams.
Blending Safety and Personalization with Public Safety Facilities
The growth of suburbs has increased demand for public safety infrastructure outside of Charlotte proper, as well. By designing and creating public safety facilities in certain areas of the community that house all first-responder divisions under one roof, first responders can not only respond to emergencies in a timely manner but also build relationships and maintain a presence with the community they are in.
“As we help to revitalize the region’s public safety infrastructure, it’s critical that we consider the first responders and their ability to engage within their communities,” said Chris Socha, senior project manager at Edifice, Inc. “When building these facilities, we want the first responders to be a resource to the community for more than just safety.”
The Iredell Public Safety Complex is a dynamic 37,000-square foot complex in the heart of Iredell County. Stewart, ADW Architects and Edifice, Inc. helped design and create the complex, on schedule to be complete by the end of 2018, to house the county’s 911 Call Center, administration space for EMS, EMS services and the fire marshal’s office to the Statesville area all under one roof.
Each of these public safety buildings are designed to have public access through the front entrances. The firms also prioritize security, with sally ports and sectioned off areas so the public can’t pass through after a certain point “We’ve helped create these facilities to successfully blend safety, personalization and open communication throughout the neighborhoods,” said Socha.
Partnering Together to Drive Progress in the Region
Stewart, ADW Architects and Edifice, Inc. have a track record of constructing effective and notable public safety facilities in the Charlotte metro area. The firms have worked together to create more than 10 facilities in the last five years alone and prioritize long-lasting projects, which are more efficient and beneficial for the community in the long run.
Most recently, Stewart, ADW Architects and Edifice, Inc. are partnering together on The CMPD Central Division headquarters, which broke ground in late August. This three-story, 31,000-square-foot facility building with a five-level parking structure is a model for other urban public safety facilities.
The partnership among local firms to lead development in the Charlotte metro area is a testament to their dedication in making the region a safe, vibrant place to live, work and play. “We are building our community,” said Williams.