The St. Louis County Government Services Center is a community corner stone located in downtown Virginia, Minnesota. The project has three distinct design goals: to welcome the community, to be safe for the staff and public, and to be a healthy building – in terms of both sustainability and the people using it.
With twelve county agencies located within the 61,000 sf building, not only is staff and public safety a concern, but so is the confidentiality of the information housed. To address this concern, the building is designed with a ‘public concourse’ on the first floor where the public can interact with a St. Louis County staff member or use the meeting spaces. The main public entry and concourse area is separate from the staff access.
Designing a building that was easy to maintain and operate but also promotes healthy lifestyle for staff is important to St. Louis County. DSGW attacked this from two angles, designing a nearly net-zero building as well as applying principles from the AIA Active Design Guidelines. First, with a high efficiency design, the use of ground source heat pumps, photo voltaic panels, passive solar wall, rain water collection system, LED lights and an efficient building envelope enables the building to be net-zero. A net-zero building creates enough energy to run the functions of the building itself. Secondly, with the Active Design Guidelines, the team looked at ways to make the building healthy for staff. This includes a central staircase and corridors along the windows to encourage walking, collaboration spaces and connection to the outdoor green space. All design functions point to a holistically healthy building.
Inspiration was drawn from the natural beauty of the Iron Range including iron ore and timber industries for the interior and exterior finish selections of the building.