Metal Wall System Helps Shape Image of New Civic Center

Feb. 10, 2006

When residents of the Puget Sound community of Bremerton, WA, want proof that their city is making serious headway in achieving its revitalization goals, they need only look up at the sparkling new Norm Dicks Government Center, a 6-story facility that has helped to reshape an aging downtown skyline.

The $30-million, 100,000-square-foot facility consolidates dozens of city, county, state, and federal departments and agencies under one roof, and is viewed as a formidable catalyst in the rebirth of the downtown core and revitalization of residential neighborhoods immediately north of the site.

The city’s ambitious renewal and expansion efforts have also resulted in the addition of a new waterfront conference center, waterfront condos, a maritime park and museum, and the expansion of its marina facilities.

The exterior design of the Dicks Government Center, as well as the materials used in its construction, reflects a keen interest on the part of the owner and architect to allow the building to blend harmoniously with the surrounding architectural landscape while creating a bold identity for the area’s most prominent civic institution.

To meet its objectives, the design team called for a façade fashioned of curtainwall, glass, and approximately 20,000 square feet of aluminum composite panels with silver, gray, and copper finishes. The composite material was also used as a visual accent to an exterior wall of the city council chambers. The wall features 23-foot-tall canted ACM trapezoidal panels that slope out and curve around part of the ground-floor plaza. 

“The aluminum composite panels were used extensively to meet our requirements for an aesthetically pleasing building envelope that offered proven technology and excellent finishes,” says Jim Cade of LMN Architects of Seattle, the project architect.

The quest for an attractive wall material that would be compatible with the center’s glazed, Art-Deco appearance was a high priority of the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority, which owns and operates the building. But it wasn’t the only consideration in selecting the aluminum composite panels, suggests the authority’s Executive Director Norman McLoughlin. “We insisted on claddings that would be easy to install and maintain yet would mirror the feel and look of a community marching to a new drum beat,” he says. Since the building is LEED-rated, McLoughlin said it was also important to utilize materials such as metal that had been recycled or are highly recyclable.

The $30-million complex, which opened last fall, includes a community meeting room capable of accommodating 50 to 200 people, administrative office spaces, a coffee shop, a mailroom, and conference and training rooms. The building, with its commanding view of downtown Bremerton, Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, was named after Norman Dicks, a Democratic congressman from Belfair, WA, who has represented the Bremerton area for the past 28 years.

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