October 25th, 2011
REGION FOUR BUILDINGOptimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.
A former warehouse is seeing new life as UDOT Region Four headquarters.
A UDOT owned building that once stored road maintenance supplies and equipment has been remodeled inside and out to serve as a state-of-the-art office building. The facility, located at 210 West 800 South in Richfield, was carefully planned to provide modern solutions and consolidate staff to help Region Four employees take care of their share of the state transportation system more efficiently and effectively.
Region Four, which serves rural and urban roads in the southern one third of the state, covers more area and has more road miles than the other three regions combined. Building and maintaining those roads takes a lot of travel and time. Video conferencing equipment, available in the new conference rooms, is helping staff make fewer trips and improve productivity. “It’s pretty neat to see how it’s being used,” says Ivan Hartle, Region Four Administrative Services Manager, who sees the video conferencing equipment working for employees many times each day.
Trips and money saved
Cindy Wright, Project Management Technician says the new building is awesome. She can confirm the value of the video conferencing equipment when it comes to saving travel time and money. Wright uses UDOT’s TravelWise Tracker to calculate the miles and money saved by videoconferencing for Project Manager Rick Torgerson. Since move-in day on July 1, Cindy’s records show that over 35 thousand miles and nearly $20 thousand have been saved.
Short trips as well as long trips have been saved. It’s been helpful to now be linked by sidewalk rather than be separated by almost a mile, explains Hartle, who used to go back and forth daily between Region Four buildings. Jami Gentry, Assistant to Region Four Director Nathan Lee, likes being close to the shop. She manages several state cars, and getting quick assistance when there’s a mechanical problem has been helpful for keeping the cars available for state business.
Another feature in the conference rooms – smart boards – allows any kind of presentation to be shown and gives staff new tools for understanding projects. Online services, Google Earth or Google Maps, can be displayed to help employees view a planned or current project area. PDBS, UDOT’s online project management system can also be viewed.
Taking a whole-project approach
Principal Architect Ralph Stanislaw and Technical Manager Kathy Phillips with Archiplex Group, a Salt Lake City based architecture firm, took a “whole project approach,” considering sound, space, light and the internal environment in converting the warehouse into an efficient and pleasing work space.
One early challenge was a noisy roof that popped with changing external temperatures that Phillips says “sounded like a hail storm.” By working with a sound engineer, Stanislaw and Phillips came up with a quiet roof solution.
Managing work and storage space involved adjusting wall and ceiling height so the work and conference areas feel roomy, not closed-in. The main conference room has a slightly vaulted ceiling and ceilings over cubicles are as high as possible. Work space for some employees was reduced, but Phillips worked with Stanislaw to make the space work with efficient office furniture selections.
Existing windows provide natural light for the space. Phillips says she and Stanislaw needed to “get creative” by cutting back or angling walls to preserve that light.
Two large fans, each measuring 10 feet in diameter, are improving energy efficiency and keeping internal temperatures pleasant. The fans change direction to either draw warm air up or push cool air down as needed.
Stanislaw also designed the building to be attractive and “not look like an addition.” Since juxtaposed old and new brick is telltale sign of an addition, external material placement was aimed at making design look cohesive. Colored glass on exterior windows provides a mosaic theme, and those colors are carried through the interior and exterior of the building.
“We think it turned out really well,” says Phillips. Gentry agrees, and says that nearly every day, someone from an outside agency, the general public or UDOT comments to her about how the new building is a great new work space.
Follow this link to see other UDOT buildings designed by Archiplex Group.