The 12,756-square-foot, fully hardened facility provides a comfortable working environment and access to natural light while protecting occupants from winds up to 200 mph. The previous DeKalb County emergency facility was located underground without exterior views. Chambless King’s design directly addresses this challenge with a unique interplay between shelter and light.
An all-glass interior wall creates a feeling of openness and extends daylight from the dispatch room into the main corridor. The screened, glass box lobby links private and public areas and serves as a pre-function space for a multi-purpose meeting room that doubles as a public tornado shelter.
Simple building forms were used due to structural code requirements for tornado shelters. Stacked stone cladding gradually increases in scale to reinforce the sense of mass and shelter. The use of local stone also provides balance to an otherwise unfamiliar architecture.
Perforated weathering-steel screens add a layer of shelter to large areas of impact-resistant glazing. The perforation pattern is designed to mimic dappling through tree canopies when light is cast into and onto the building.
A concrete border and manicured lawn extend the building’s shape into the rural landscape with a clean edge. The horizontal architecture and landscape contrast the adjacent 300-foot-tall communication tower.