Effective governmental agencies embrace bold action to achieve forward-thinking goals for their residents. Such is the case with the Johnson County 588 Building, formerly known as the Johnson County Justice Annex. This project involved taking a vacated Dillons Grocery store and transforming it into a civic facility for the Johnson County Sheriffs’ Department and two other court-related user groups. The Design Team lovingly referred to this process as “Un-Dillonsing the Dillons”. Renovating the under-performing facility helped reverse a localized blight in a nine-block area.
The process started with a detailed needs analysis of the three different user groups. At first tally, the required square footage was nearly 60,000 square feet, with each user group preferring to be established in its own separate area. After a series of collaborative exercises, trust was built within the user groups, and space-efficient shared areas were able to be utilized, cutting the square footage down by nearly 20,000 square feet, to the point where it could be contained within the walls of the existing infrastructure.
The facilities operation includes secure public access, and the design responds by balancing a high degree of security with an open and welcoming feel—a fortress of sorts, with the face of a community center. Operating on a tight budget, extra attention was given to the common space areas, which were designed to receive abundant natural daylight—with adjacent areas then borrowing that daylight through the use of interior windows.
A distinctive galvanized steel and wood trellis was designed at the entrance, to mark the front door and to encourage staff and visitors to venture outdoors for breaks during the workday. Aside from providing an inviting gathering place, it allowed for a dramatic nighttime lighting scheme, which provided a sense of 24-hour civic permanence to the building. It was important for the project to reflect Johnson County’s vision that good design can positively affect the behavior of building occupants and visitors. The project achieved LEED Silver.
Dan Maginn FAIA was principal in charge of this project while at el dorado inc.