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Marion Fire Station Receives AIA Honor Award

MARION, IA — The Marion Fire Station No. 1, designed by OPN Architects, has received an Excellence in Design Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Iowa. This award recognizes excellent architectural projects designed by members of AIA Iowa that emphasize their importance in the community.

Located in a rapidly growing community, the recently completed fire station reduces response time, establishes a strong and transparent civic presence, and uses biophilic design principles to support fire fighters' physical and mental wellness.

The lobby is a light-filled space allowing for direct views to the apparatus bay. It hosts the display of the fire department’s history and tradition on a history wall. The exterior is complete with shou sugi ban wood, a charred wood using controlled fire, that adds texture, depth, and narrative to the building. The wood is highlighted by the contrast of the smooth panes of glass throughout, which maximizes daylight and allows connection to the community. Both of these results contribute to promoting wellness in first responders.

“Biophilia, it’s bringing nature into the building," said Fire Chief Deb Krebill. "By bringing nature in, it helps calm our firefighters throughout the day. When they come back from a bad call, there’s areas of the building that bring in nature, like our green roof.”

To ensure the firefighters have a variety of areas to relax and recharge, the fire station also includes multiple types of spaces. A full kitchen with a large family-style table, along with a TV and gaming room make up the living rooms in the fire station. The space is wrapped in full-height glazing and has exposed wood ceilings. Circadian lighting is used throughout to ensure the firefighters wake-sleep cycle is synchronized with natural light. These interior spaces are complimented by two ipe wood terraces sheltered by a roof and wall trellis. A green roof surrounding all the living spaces and sleeping rooms completes the building.

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Strategic sequencing of spaces, including a decontamination clean room, between the bays and the office and living areas mitigate exposure to fire and ash carcinogens. On the opposite side of the bays, the hose-drying tower also serves as a training area to simulate rescues. Training opportunities continue at the exterior where the retention pond is also used to train for ice rescues. The station is also home to a storm shelter, as well as the city’s disaster emergency operations center.

Although faced with much adversity through COVID-19 and the Derecho in Iowa, the Marion Fire Station Headquarters opened in June of 2021.

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