The Monroe Shops building at Illinois Station in South Dallas, Texas, has a unique history dating back to its initial construction. Built of brick in 1914, the building served as a critical maintenance facility for the Texas Interurban Railway, which linked much of north Texas during the heydays of local passenger rail.
The Interurban, however, closed its operations in 1948. Subsequently, the facility housed a paper mill and a U-Haul business, interspersed with long periods of vacancy. When Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) bought the building in 1991 as part of the land acquisition for the southern Blue Line segment, the facility was in disrepair.
“The roof had collapsed and the building looked like the old gothic ruins of a cathedral,” said Steven Bourn, DART’s architect and project manager.
In the following years, DART took measures to stabilize the building and used it for various purposes, including a museum and health center. In 2007, DART succeeded in adding Monroe Shops to the National Register of Historic Places.
Despite these efforts, the city of Dallas and DART had a long-standing desire to put the facility back into productive, transit-oriented use. Also, the DART Police Department, which had operated out of rented facilities for a long time, wanted to build a dedicated headquarters to meet the needs of its growing workforce. Following a needs assessment, DART determined that placing the police headquarters in this historic facility was the most expedient solution to both objectives.
In 2008, DART commissioned TRACK3, a joint venture team consisting of Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam Inc. (LAN), APM & Associates Inc. (APM), Aguirre Roden Architects, and CP&Y Inc., to transform Monroe Shops into a state-of-the-art, sustainable police headquarters.
LAN provided program management services while APM & Associates Inc. was responsible for structural and civil engineering services. Aguirre Roden acted as the architect-of-record with Brinkley Sargent Architects serving as design architect. Brinkley Sargent also provided the original needs assessment.
Other members of the project team included: Berkenbile Landscape Architects, Bowman Engineering & Consulting, URS, Phillips May, Journeyman Construction, Triad, BKM Total Office of Texas, Move Solutions and Outcome CX Henderson Engineers.
The approximately 35,000-square-foot building was transformed into a modern 65,000 square-foot, three-story facility encompassing a public lobby with room to display a historic trolley car, meeting areas, spaces for police records, hiring and recruiting, police training, patrol, criminal investigations, internal affairs, police administration, evidence processing and storage.
Other amenities included locker rooms, a large central break room, physical training space and a large exercise room. The $20 million facility is the first publicly owned building listed on the National Register of Historic Places to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification — the highest level possible.
Patrick E. Jolly, P.E., vice president and business group transit leader of LAN said, “Initially, every step in re-purposing the facility revealed critical stability issues that required innovative structural solutions that not only repaired the condition but also adhered to the stringent requirements imposed to preserve the historic elements of the building.”
Preserving the Historic Fabric
Following the building’s historic designation, one of the primary goals of the project team was to retain the building’s original identity; the design had to be sensitive to any modifications made to the existing historic fabric. Working closely with DART and the Texas State Historic Preservation Office, the TRACK team came up with a building-within-a-building solution.
“It’s unlike anything that I have seen before,” said Lt. James Foster, DART Police Department’s AM Patrol Commander. “There is the original building followed by a 3-foot standoff for the majority of the building, and then you enter our facility. It’s almost like an egg shell.”