New Pitkin County administration and public safety building mixes old with new
Pitkin County officials faced a significant challenge when they designed their new administration and public safety building on Main Street.
They planned to retain and renovate the old 17,000 square-foot county building — with its ’70s-style brick and arched third-floor windows — while adding a 24,000 square-foot addition to the back that would bump up against the historic Pitkin County Courthouse next door.
The design not only had to square with the old building, it had to align aesthetically with the vaunted courthouse, which opened in 1891. Now with the new $24.6 million building set to debut in less than three months, Rich Englehart, the county’s chief operating officer, said Friday he thinks they succeeded.
“We tried to tie it all in, but not match it perfectly,” he said. “Because if you don’t (match it perfectly), it looks like you missed. So we did it to compliment (what was already there).”
The county is scheduled to begin moving into the new building the week of July 16, Englehart said. The first official day with a full staff is expected to be Aug. 7, he said.
The administrative staff will move out of the building that houses Stubbies Bar and other businesses in Basalt, clearing the way for Mountain Family Health to take over. The staff of the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, assessor’s office and treasurer’s office — now in the courthouse next door — will join them, as will the county’s Community Development Department now housed with their city colleagues on the second floor of City Hall.
Englehart during a tour of the new building proudly showed off the gleaming new spaces. The basement of the building features an 8,000 square foot parking garage for Sheriff’s Office personnel only, he said. The basement also will include a new fully secure evidence storage and processing room, as well as a large conference and training room that will be used by the Pitkin County Clerk’s Office during elections, Englehart said.
Upstairs on the first floor, the main glass entrance to the building will feature an atrium-style, three-story lobby with a staircase in the middle and a skylight at the top. Off to the left of the entrance is the county commissioners’ new meeting room, complete with a small room at the back from which Grassroots TV can broadcast county meetings.
Commissioner Patti Clapper, who joined Friday’s tour, pointed out where the commissioners meeting table will go — against the wall close to the courthouse — and the fact that stained bark beetle pine will be inlaid into the table and serve as a backdrop on the wall.
Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock stood in the middle of the room and joked that “the pillar goes here,” a reference to the commissioners’ previous meeting room that featured a large, square pillar smack in the center of the small room.
The first commissioner meeting in the new room is set for Aug. 7, Englehart said.
Next to the meeting room is an overfill space that will feature TV screens when meetings attract large crowds. It also will be used for voting during elections.
Directly across from the main entrance is the new Sheriff’s Office. The space features a large patrol room and kitchen area for deputies, conference rooms, report writing and interview rooms and administrative offices.
To the right of the entrance is the new clerk’s office space, which is located in the same area the office previously occupied in the old county building. However, the entrance will no longer be in the same spot.
The second floor will house the county’s Open Space and Trails Department, the assessor’s office, the IT offices, the community development department and a break room.
The administration, attorney’s office, human resources and finance departments will occupy the third floor. The top floor also features another employee break room with an outdoor balcony sitting area that looks north toward Red Mountain.
Outside, the new addition features sandstone accents meant to match up with those of the courthouse. Englehart said stone masons hand-manipulated the stone — a process called “pillowing” — to give the same feel.
“Those guys were really good,” he said of the stonemasons.
The refurbished Veteran’s Park — framed by the L-shape of the new building — also is beginning to take shape. The memorial itself was left in place and encased in a wooden box during construction, and was only uncovered in recent weeks.
The redesign of Veteran’s Park, which was overseen by local veterans, added $200,000 to $300,000 to the project and will include permanent seating, new landscaping and better handicapped access. A canopy over the walkway leading to the building’s main entrance also will provide cover during ceremonies when Rocky Mountain weather intrudes.
Finally, the original wild rose bushes that lined the sidewalk in front of the park have been kept alive by a nursery in Basalt and hopefully will be replanted, Clapper said.
“We were very thankful for that because a lot of (the rose bushes) were planted in memory of veterans and I felt we needed to honor that,” she said.
The classic wrought iron fence also was saved and will be reinstalled, Clapper said.
“It’s exciting,” she said of the new building. “All those years we said we needed to do something (about the county’s office space) and here we’ve done it.”
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Basalt mayoral candidates Bill Kane and Rob Leavitt said at a Feb. 10 forum they endorsed the town government’s $1.34 million expenditure to expand a riverfront park. Candidate and councilman Bill Infante said not so fast and provided an alternative view.