Public Works Operation Center

ClientCity of Bellingham
LocationBellingham, WA
HighlightsPublic Buildings, Community Spaces, Emergency Command Center, Vehicle Storage, Public Art

The Pacific Street Operations Center for the City of Bellingham houses both the Public Works Operation’s Natural Resources division and the Parks Department’s Operations division. Designed to accommodate approximately 200 employees, the project goals included new collaborative workspaces, honoring the City’s energy and climate standards, and enabling efficient emergency response and safety training. In addition to the five-story office building, a separate two-story Operations Barn was constructed at the Yard to provide critical winterized storage for Vactor Trucks and facilities vehicles and extra storage and shop workspaces. Both the Admin building and Barn were constructed and completed during the pandemic, which offered its own set of challenges (or as we like to say, opportunities) without compromising the successful project’s results.

The original scope was for a three-story Public Works office building and detached operations barn to store and winterize essential City vehicle equipment. However, both the Department of Natural Resources and Parks and Recreation were in buildings that could no longer support them. The decision was then made to combine all three divisions and into one five-story building.

The office building’s exterior is clad with a topographic map of Bellingham on the northeast side, designed by RMC to honor the One Percent for Arts program required in public spaces. The map—the first of its kind to be fabricated in North America—was made with a 3D, cement fiber material called Equitone, giving it a mineral aesthetic with a naturally varied and unique texture. The graphic reflects both Lake Whatcom’s—the city’s drinking water reservoir—and Whatcom Creek’s journey to the sea.

The ground floor was designed to be flexible enough to accommodate a variety of uses, including city council meetings, Bellingham BTV (Business Television), public hearings, commission meetings, and staff training. The space can also be used as a command center during emergencies. Employee support spaces are located on the second floor and include a kitchen and lunchroom, locker rooms, showers, and restrooms.

The top three floors are office spaces for employees and division leaders. The offices were arranged in an open configuration to promote collaboration among staff. Limited private office spaces around the perimeter maximize daylight and views.

Rugged finishes like polished concrete floors and exposed conduit and HVAC systems are intentional; to reflect the kind of work the department does. The building was also designed to model LEED Silver qualifications.

Skip to content