Article Comment 

Robert Ford: A bold plan for a new police station




Starkville is literally at a crossroads. It is time for fresh, creative and rational thinking followed by decisive action by the mayor and aldermen. 


The (once again) failed bond issue for an obviously much-needed new police facility mandates a fresh and more viable process. Movement forward with an appropriate, high quality, and financially feasible design is possible 


Tuesday evening the mayor and aldermen should consider a totally fresh but more successful approach to our much needed police facility. As an architect, planner and retired MSU professor of architecture, let me suggest a bold and (finally) viable approach to the challenge you all face: Ideally a site in the general vicinity of the Oktibbeha County Jail and the new Starkville Electric Building is most desirable, though other possibilities such as a complete renovation of the former GMC-Cadillac dealership; or even expansion of the as yet unoccupied car dealership just south (across Highway 12) from Walmart should be considered. 


Also, at a time when many local professionally qualified architects, contractors and builders are without sufficient work, we have a particularly unique opportunity to (finally) resolve the needed police station in a very positive way. 


I suggest you sponsor a design-build competition open to any local team of a licensed (Golden Triangle) architect and a qualified (Golden Triangle) contractor. These "teams" would each design, build models, then submit their design solutions at the same time (early summer?). At that time a major exhibition of all schemes could be held soliciting comments or even conduct a "straw pole" by registered voters; then choose the scheme favored by the majority of aldermen. The favored scheme would then be awarded a normal architectural contract to develop detailed drawings, specifications and final cost estimates. This favored design would then be placed as a bond issue during our next general election. 


The architect/builder teams would all have their work exhibited and recognized by the public. The three most favored schemes would receive modest but reasonable awards (perhaps $10,000 each). The top award winner would be awarded a contract to go on with their detailed design development and specifications through the summer, preparing for the November 2012 bond issue. 


The beauty of this idea is that you generate a better look at a variety of sites; are given a greater choice of building designs and are able to fully consider cost factors. Indeed one team might choose to submit several alternative schemes with buildings on different sites; or buildings of different sizes and costs. This should be encouraged. 


In the early 1980s a design competition was held which resulted in the design and construction of Fire Station Three on Highway 389. The project generated public excitement and resulted in a design award winning building. The "ribbon cutting" involved Chief Kirk Rosenhan deftly chopping an old length of fire hose with a fire ax. The architect then donated a black and white Dalmatian dog to the station. The engines in Fire Station Three expectantly await the call to provide excellent service. 


We have the opportunity to once again approach an important civic building in a fresh and creative way. Please do so, Starkville Aldermen. 




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Reader Comments

Article Comment mississippian commented at 10/31/2011 6:04:00 PM:

What? You, as retired MSU professor of architecture come up with some dumb idea like this. The city already employees personnel who are on the payroll that could come up with a design.


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