The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) recently commissioned the design of a new bus maintenance and operations facility to be located near Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. RNL and Maintenance Design Group were chosen to provide a design that was both functional and highly sustainable. As this was a public facility it was necessary to supply all essential services while creating an icon for responsible, sustainable design and remaining cognizant of budget constraints. Being the first new maintenance and operations facility to be commissioned by LA Metro in more than 25 years, optimizing Metro’s bus transit service throughout Central Los Angeles and the surrounding area drove the need.
Visible and thoughtful design approaches related to alternative energy, water conservation and the working environment allow LA Metro to establish itself as an agency on the leading edge of the industry, while capturing valuable political capital within the local community. The design for this state-of-the-art facility, dubbed Division 13, succeeded in each of these requirements through careful adherence to a disciplined decision-making process that prioritized current and immediate needs, and assigned a value to long-term projections related to operations, market factors, technology innovations and community values.
The Division 13 facility is designed to accommodate up to 200 CNG standard-sized buses or an equivalent combination of standard and 60-foot articulated buses. It includes a maintenance building with 17 service bays, tire and chassis wash bays, and a body shop. The buses, along with 40 non-revenue vehicles, are housed in a multi-level, structured parking garage with fuel, wash and brake inspection facilities within the footprint of the garage, and 397 employee and visitor vehicles below grade. A fleet operations and transportation building for more than 500 employees faces the garage along one primary street façade, and additional welding and radiator shops will be relocated into an existing facility on site. The entire facility sits on a 7-acre urban site prominently located across from historic Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. With both foot and automobile traffic passing regularly, the facility had to present an urban face to the street, while maintaining needed security levels and operational circulation.
The design’s guiding principles of functionality and sustainability remained at the forefront of the facility’s design process. The project is registered with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) as pursuing LEED-NC Gold. Silver was the contracted target, but as the team began to design and investigate various approaches to site planning, equipment selection and systems, the appropriate certification level naturally began to present itself. Potential project features discussed included site and building shade structures, natural ventilation, glare and heat reduction in regularly occupied spaces, and a green roof garden for employees. Photovoltaic panels integrated into the faade and the facility’s roof, a 275,000-gallon underground storm water retention and recycle system, as well as a future “Green Fuels” facility for public vehicle use all made their way into the project. Many other ideas did not make the cut. In each case, the key determining factor was a rigorous and comprehensive analysis of the pros and cons of each idea, which resulted in a total project value that could ultimately be assessed by the client. When this kind of review is performed, decision-making becomes much clearer and straightforward, and surprises down the road are minimized. The result is a project that is predisposed to meet, or exceed, everyone’s expectations.