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Wisconsin Architect Magazine
Wisconsin Architect E-News Archive: Mosaic January 2009

Madison Fire Station #11

Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Architect: Plunkett Raysich Architects LLP
Contractor: Miron Construction

On the fringe of Madison's east side, a new fire station stretches across the developing prairie as the first building to anchor a new urban community.

The program consists of a 4,000 square foot apparatus room for six vehicles, including an engine, police mobile command vehicle and rescue vehicles. Support space lines both sides of the floor, while six overhead doors allow drive-through capability. A watch room is positioned at the front of the space, with views inside the apparatus room and outside across the drive-out apron. Three officers' quarters and eight sleeping quarters are served by a day-lit exercise room, kitchen and dining area with a south-facing outdoor terrace. A windowless dayroom occupies the center of the station, functioning as a "black box" for television viewing. A 700 square foot community room is prominently located on the northwest corner of the building with its own dedicated public entrance.

The fire station sits on a sloping tapered site, defined by four urban streets with sidewalks.

The design solution communicates a pedestrian-friendly image through the integration of disparate programmatic elements in a planar composition of brick, glass and aluminum. Large volumes, like the apparatus room, are broken down with transparency and thin planes. Smaller volumes, like the officers' quarters, are rendered more massively, balancing the fire station's different elements. Interlocking these, an oversized aluminum pergola stands above the watch room, directing focus to the main entrance. This vertical feature lends stature to this one-story building. While site and functional constraints push the building away from its corners, the edge-hugging community room employs pedestrian-friendly canopies, signage and lighting to address its urban context.

Inside, the fire station employs daylighting strategies throughout. Expansive clerestory windows protected by deep overhangs bounce indirect light into the apparatus room, while opaque garage doors block east-west solar exposure. Pergolas protect the community room, kitchen, dining room and outdoor terrace from harsh summer sun, while admitting low angle winter sun.

Photography: Plunkett Raysich Architects

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