After five years of discussion, planning, and construction, the City of Rockville unveiled its new police station with a dedication and public open house on Saturday, October 20, providing a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse inside both buildings and all floors. It was a bit difficult to tell how many people showed up given the informal nature of the open house, but I’m guessing it was about 100-150 people. Most of it consists of (yawn) offices, but some of the more interesting spots were the armory and communications center. The best part, though, was meeting the staff and officers who gave tours or explained the work of their department–so much nicer than when you typically encounter them on the street when they’re handing a crime or a conflict.
The federal government abandoned the 1938 post office a few years ago and transferred it free to the City of Rockville so it could be used for a police station. The decision to undertake the $8.5 million rehabilitation and construction project was controversial at times but the new building provides much needed space for public safety and consolidates city offices that were rented and scattered throughout the city. The architects did an outstanding job of preserving the historic post office’s distinctive features, including the lobby and its mural, as well as adding a second building that’s modern but doesn’t compete. One feature that’s not obvious is the emphasis on saving energy, which can be seen in the extensive use of skylights, white roofs, and motion-detecting light switches. One element that does rattle my design sensibilities are the signs, which seem a bit cartoonish and dated, plus I don’t like the colors of green and silver. Chief Treschuk explained that green is a color that’s being increasingly adopted for places of safety (much like yellow for school busses) so I can live with that choice, but the otherwise, the signs really need to be rethought (okay, I’m partially to blame–I sat on the Historic District Commission when it reviewed the plans back in 2010).