Lower Allen Township needed a new Municipal Services Center to more efficiently accommodate police, fire, and emergency medical services and Township administrative offices. The Board of Commissioners asked that the new facility include an emergency operations center, space for community activities and meetings, and an area equipped with a wireless Internet connection, which would be open to Township residents. A portion of the 10.6-acre site will eventually be used as a passive-use park tied to the surrounding neighborhoods by connecting paths.
The need for additional space had been evident for a long time. The current municipal building, built in 1936, had been expanded twice. During this time, various departments moved out of Township facilities into leased spaces at significant additional cost. In addition, the renovated municipal building’s numerous additions and adaptations resulted in multiple boilers and air conditioning systems, for which maintenance costs had steadily increased.
BH faced several challenges on the two-acre site positioned between Gettysburg Road and a Norfolk Southern rail line in Cumberland County. Several existing dilapidated and abandoned buildings needed to be removed, while the land itself featured heavy contours which posed additional challenges. BH worked closely with Township officials, EMS personnel, and the Public Safety Director to best achieve the desired features for all involved.
Due to the small site and limited vehicular access, the design team developed a 45,000-SF facility featuring a three-story building that placed Township departments on separate floors. The design provides secure access for the Lower Allen Police Department, Fire Department, and EMS from Township employees and residents. The main entrance is located on the lower level and is presented as an extension of Main Street with storefronts for Township services. Residents vising the new Township Building have easy access to Zoning, Public Safety, Administration, Tax Office, and Human Resources in one convenient location. A 9,000-SF public meeting room is accessible after hours and is used for Supervisor Meetings.
Three drive-through apparatus bays are used by the Fire Department with three additional bays provided for the EMS and the Advanced Life Support units of West Shore EMS. The design is expandable to six drive-through bays if Emergency Medical Services relocates due to increased size or coverage requirements. The new facility provided the Lower Allen Police Department the opportunity to become accredited by PAPAC and CALEA.
As part of efforts to integrate the new construction into the existing landscape, BH studied historical photos of significant Township buildings in order to develop the elevations, scale, and details of the new facility. The overall design is meant to simulate a grouping of small individual buildings that may have existed on the site originally while bringing the facility into the modern age. The successful design was selected for a Central Pennsylvania AIA award and continues to provide approachable and secure operations for Township staff and residents.