Meyer & Allen Associates

North Hollywood Police Station

Location:Los Angeles, CA
Size:47,700 sq. ft.
Awards: 1998-99 - AIA Justice Facilities Review

The North Hollywood Police Station includes a 40,000 sq. ft. Administration Building containing offices for: the Area Commander, Detectives and Vice Units, Community Relations and Records; showers, changing facilities, and meeting spaces for the Patrol Division; and a suite of spaces for the Watch Command with a small adult and juvenile holding facility, interview rooms, property storage and report writing spaces.  Separate from the Administration Building is a 7,700 sq. ft. Vehicle Maintenance Building containing a car wash, fueling bays, and service bays for up to six vehicles.  Staff parking is provided in a single-level below-grade structure that extends under the Administration Building, with additional parking for official vehicles provided on grade.

The site is located on Burbank Boulevard adjacent to the Hollywood Freeway, in a primarily residential community.  The building is shaped to step away from the street and from the residences at the east, allowing the building to blend sympathetically with the scale of the neighborhood.  A continuous screen of mature trees along the eastern property line provides a buffer from the adjacent residences.

The site is divided into a publicly accessible area at the north side, which contains the public parking area and the entry plaza, and a secure zone containing all of the operational components of the police station.  The two zones are separated by a security wall and continuous planter, which extend into the building to create an internal separation of public and staff areas.

Police stations must be designed with security in mind.  Staff areas need to be invulnerable to attack, and therefore the stations tend to be fortress-like in character, with limited opportunities for exterior glazing.  The building’s design expresses this characteristic by utilizing an exterior wall of concrete block constructed in alternating bands of 4" high smooth face, light gray block, and 12" high split face, medium gray block, which produces a rusticated appearance.  The wall is set on a concrete base, and is capped with a concrete cornice.  Windows are set high on the wall, six feet above finished floor, to prevent views into the building from the street, but they retain a square proportion and a conventional scale to relate to the neighborhood context.  As the building steps away from the street, the exterior walls take on a lighter quality.  The setback second floor utilizes a center score block, with a warm hue, and the penthouse is clad in porcelain enameled metal panels, which are carried down to grade at the southwest corner of the building behind the site security perimeter.

In juxtaposition to the rustic appearance of the exterior walls of the secure staff zones, the public areas of the building are treated in an open and inviting manner.  The two major public areas - the community room, off the main lobby, and the staff break room, on the second floor - are developed as glass block cylinders, which are animated by natural light during the day and become illuminated beacons at night.  They are identical in height and proportion, and are carefully organized in plan to frame the main entrance and lobby.  Two vertical light towers, also made of glass block, are located to bring natural light into the secure areas of the building and play off the cylinders in the exterior composition.