Five years after its completion, City of Montclair residents and community members celebrated their new $22.50 million Police Facility with a second open house. When the facility originally opened in 2009, Delia Cochran, a 36-year resident of Montclair, said she is certain the new facility will last for more than 100 years. “The facility is amazing,” she said. “Whoever really thought of this really did a great job.” With only 95 years to go, Montclair’s current Chief of Police, Michael deMoet, agrees. “We love this building. We’re absolutely spoiled,” deMoet told a news reporter. “It’s a more enjoyable, open, airy facility. Many of our offices have mountain views. We have skylights running through our halls.”
The City of Montclair is a modest community located in Southern California which has a population of about 37,000 people who share a unique appreciation for their Police Department. As Councilman Bill Ruh observed, “Our police personnel deserves this new facility and it is to their hard work to which it is dedicated. Their job is not easy, they don't always see the better side of life and on a minute-by-minute basis their job changes - the unexpected is the expected.”
After obtaining conceptual work by the Los Angeles firm of Randall Stout Architects, the City initiated a rigorous architect selection process and ultimately decided to hire WLC Architects of Rancho Cucamonga to design the new facility. The building’s unique forms and features were all crafted by WLC, while portions of Stout’s initial vision were retained. An abundant use of skylights, a spacious central atrium, and a building profile reflecting the nearby San Gabriel mountains pay tribute to Stout’s initial ideas, while they are expressed much differently in WLC’s design.
Like Stout, WLC pioneered sustainable design and green building strategies early in their careers, as exemplified by WLC’s ground-breaking Energy Resource Center designed for Southern California Gas Company in 1992. The ERC was used as a model case study by the founders of the Leadership In Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) to initially develop green building design guidelines. The same strategies used in the ERC were refined and advanced in the design of the Montclair Police Facility,” said Larry Wolff, the designer and principal architect for the project.
WLC has designed 18 police facilities over the last several decades, and each one is uncommonly distinct. Selected to be the gateway for the City's north redevelopment area, the new Police Station is a highly visible community landmark built for citizens and public agencies to conduct public safety business and governmental affairs. The striking composition of bold concrete masonry forms, angles, planes and jagged rooflines provide a contrasting backdrop to the punctuated glazed openings, soaring clerestories, and curving overhangs used to achieve a steadfast, yet playful exterior.
An easily accessible main public plaza and entrance space—enhanced by majestic mountain views—serves as a small town square, as it creates a gathering space for police promotions and community functions. The plaza incorporates an interpretive rock drainage flume and a ring of citrus trees, thus reminding visitors of the irrigation runnels which served early agricultural areas.
Like the building plan, the site is organized into public and restricted areas which are easily identifiable and securable. Interior functions include spaces for police administration, records, communications, special operations, patrol, investigations, public defender, an emergency operations center, six-lane shooting range, a Type I Jail, and ample room for future growth. The end result is an unintended but beneficial collaboration between two architects who never knew or spoke to one another, and yet created a significant work resulting from a common design philosophy united by shared intentions.
At the time construction was completed on the 46,500 square foot facility, then-Chief Chester Thompson redesigned their police badges to incorporate the new building’s profile. Whenever officers are on duty, they wear the building’s image. “Obviously,” Chief deMoet said of the badges, “we took a lot of pride in the building.”