This story was originally published in the Oct. 20 issue of Fourth Estate.
A new public safety building housing Fairfax County Police headquarters as well as the Firemen’s headquarters and other offices will be ready for use in spring 2017.
The new building will be one of the first in Fairfax County to have energy efficient LED lights used throughout the entire building. According to Fairfax County’s website, the building will meet LEED Silver certification and will have several other environmentally friendly features, including green roofs and low-flow plumbing fixtures.
“We looked for an example, you know regionally, to see if anybody else had done one with all LEDs and we couldn’t find it, all they had was like a conference room here and there. And so what we expect is that this building, with LED lights, will be almost like a model for others. We expect people to want to tour it, we expect other architects to come and see it, see how it’s doing,” said Andrew Miller, the project coordinator at the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services.
Both fire department and police department headquarters are currently housed in the Massey Building, located on Chain Bridge Rd. The Massey Building was constructed in the 1960s and contains several old materials that have been found dangerous.
“The Massey Building was built in the ‘60s,” Miller said. “It has a lot of materials they used at the time – including asbestos – at the time was not known to be unsafe. And so as they try to retrofit or do anything to it, they keep encountering asbestos and so it’s very hard to make Massey work the way they need it to work.”
According to Miller, the building also does not meet the departments’ IT needs. The heating and air conditioning systems of Massey are so old that companies no longer make the parts needed to fix them.
Though these issues may seem fixable, renovating Massey would not have provided the growing departments with the space they need. The Massey Building can only accommodate approximately 463 employees.
“If you were to go down to some of the floors here, some of the sections where the detectives are housed, they’re kind of just crammed,” said Public Information Officer Roger Roger Henriquez said. “From an organizational standpoint, I could tell you it’d be a lot better to have space, and you have more space for them to actually work out of.”
The new building will be built for the departments approximate needs in 2030. According to the county website, the new building will have space for 700 employees and will take up 274,000 square feet. The new building will have 8 stories and an 850-space parking garage.
“Departments [are] going to continue to grow just because as the number of citizens increases in the county, that number generally tends to drive up the department size,” Henriquez said.
However, even if the Massey Building provided the departments with necessary space, the amount of asbestos and other materials proved to be a hazard would make renovating difficult, according to the county website.
Because the new building will have room for both departments to grow, some offices within each department that were previously housed separately will be able to come together. According to Henriquez, these offices include Central Records, Fire Marshal and Fire Prevention offices.
The new building will provide a better opportunity for Fire and Police Departments to better do their work, according to Henriquez.
“I like to say that our service is already good, it’s already great. If anything, our service is going to get better with us being there,” Henriquez said.
Though Massey is conveniently located next to the Adult Detention Center and the county courthouse, the new building will be next to the Fairfax County Government Center, the Herrity Building. According to Henriquez, this change in location brings more positives than negatives.
“So, people who would come over to the Herrity Building for site permits can now go next door and take care of their Fire Marshall needs instead of having to drive to a different location,” Miller said.
The change in location may impact citizens as well. Once the Massey Building is empty and fewer cars are parked in the complex, residents attending court may have an easier time finding their way to the courthouse.
“I know that when residents come through and they have to go to court, as I’m walking in I’ll get [asked] two or three times every morning, ‘Where am I going?’ As opposed to, if we’re not here anymore, both lots you can open right up, everyone I think will have a lot easier access too,” Henriquez said.
Photo Credits: Fairfax County. No changes made. Creative Commons License.