Tukwila fire station earns national design honor

Tukwila Fire Station 51 has received national recognition at the 2023 FIERO Fire Station Design Awards.

The station, located at 17951 Southcenter Parkway, was one of two facilities to win the program’s top prize, the Honor Award.

Fire Station 51 opened in Sept. 2020. The 12,540-square-foot, one-story building houses six firefighters and includes two apparatus bays, six bunk rooms, a kitchen, fitness area, office space, private courtyard, and an inviting public lobby. It was designed by Weinstein A + U in collaboration with TCA Architecture and was built by Lydig Construction.

The station is located along a busy thoroughfare and was designed to stand out against a sea of surrounding big box stores and loading docks. The architectural vision was to create a new civic landmark for residents and visitors as well as a healthy and calming space for firefighters that maximized their ability to serve the community.

Designed to encourage community connection, the station has an expressive exterior and a welcoming entry plaza intended to reflect the city of Tukwila’s commitment to serve its residents. The exterior is comprised of thick brick walls with full-height glazing that symbolize stability.

Weinstein A + U adds that the station’s site design also encourages human interaction with the building and community connection to the Fire Department by creating an inviting place to pause along Southcenter Parkway. A wedge-shaped walkway leads from the street to the lobby, past generous seat walls and native landscaping.

In the public lobby, visitors will find a cantilevered bench and a wall-mounted slab, repurposed from a Bigleaf Maple tree that grew nearby and fell during the early months of planning for the station. A mural above the lobby bench incorporates slabs from the tree and reinterprets the tree rings into a timeline for the city and fire department, identifying key events and dates in their history. Inspired by their use at this station, slabs from the tree can now be found in civic buildings across Tukwila.

Internally, the architect’s design was all about creating a safe and restorative oasis for firefighters that prioritized both their mental and physical well-being. The design team collaborated closely with the firefighters who would be using the station on the design. Natural light and open spaces were priorities, as was shielding the firefighters from the bustle of the station’s highly commercial surroundings. The result is a calming space that promotes rest between emergency calls.

The layout was also designed to support training and minimize response times. Operational areas and bunk rooms are organized around the apparatus bay to provide efficient response times, day or night, while the bunk rooms and more residential spaces are oriented towards a central courtyard that connects them to each other and to nature.

Fire Station 51 cost $14.68 million and is one of three new fire stations which Weinstein A + U has designed for the City of Tukwila, funded via a 2016 bond measure to improve public safety infrastructure. The other stations are nos. 52 and 22.

FIERO said it received thirty entries from nineteen architectural firms for the 2023 Fire Station Awards program. The jury awarded two Honor Awards, six Merit Awards, and five Recognition Awards.

The latest honor adds to an impressive list of awards for Fire Station 51 that also includes a 2022 AIA Washington Civic Design Award, Honorable Mention and a 2023 Masonry Institute of Washington, Excellence in Masonry Award, Silver Award.

The project team for Fire Station 51 also includes: Tukwila Public Works Department, owner; Shiels Obletz Johnsen, project manager; Hart Crowser, geotechnical engineer; LPD Engineering, civil engineer; Swift Co., landscape architect; Swenson Say Faget, structural engineer; The Greenbusch Group, mechanical engineer; TFWB Engineers, Electrical Engineer; Axt Consulting, specifications; RLB, cost estimator; JRS Engineering (now 4EA), envelope; O’Brien360, sustainability; and WHPacific (now NV5), traffic signalization.

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