Mercer Island Fire Station 92
Architect: Miller Hull Partnership
Owner: City of Mercer Island
Location: Mercer Island, Washington
Built to replace an aging and seismically deficient fire station on 13-square-mile Mercer Island, Washington, this project helps ensure the safety and well-being of its 25,000 residents. The 8,000-square-foot structure has helped develop a stronger connection to the community and mitigates the elevated energy use common among public safety facilities in the Pacific Northwest.
Political, financial, and community support to replace its predecessor—an early-1960s structure with a backlog of deferred maintenance—was difficult to muster until the island’s former mayor suffered a major heart attack in 2011. Crediting the actions of the Mercer Island Fire Department with saving his life—a notion his surgeons confirmed—Mayor Jim Pearman was able to generate enough momentum to sway the city council and the community to approve construction.
"Best of all this honors the incredibly hard working firefighters deserving of such a light space." ~ Jury statement
In addition to the functional design, one of the overarching goals for the team was to engage the community. Seizing on the fascination fire stations often hold for both adults and children, the team invited interested members of the community to participate in a number of open houses during the design process. The new station’s open views into the vehicle bays from the surrounding pedestrian and vehicular thoroughfares help solidify the connection, hopefully leading to greater awareness and support for the vital services the department provides.
The design team incorporated a number of sustainable features to reduce energy use and provide thermal comfort for the firefighters. The station boasts a thermally efficient envelope, and fast-acting bi-fold doors in the vehicle bays reduce the amount of time the doors are opened following an emergency response. A perforated metal panel and skylight at the public entryway maximize daylight, and a number of shared spaces borrow light from the north-facing vehicle bays, providing the bonus of a direct and constant visual connection with the heart of the station.
A simple palette and durable materials — including polished concrete, tile floors, and CMU walls — were essential since the firefighters must check and maintain their equipment regularly. Perforated steel and aluminum provide a low-cost but elegant skin, while local red cedar lends a touch of warmth that resonates with the timber heritage of the region.
"Great balance of functionality and warmth of materials make this a beautiful facility." ~ Jury statement