The Community Services building type is distinguished by the wide range of different facility types that fall under it. While all Community Services facilities share a common purpose in the service of public needs, each facility is very specialized and the functional requirements are extremely varied. For example, facilities such as museums, visitor centers, and youth centers are recreational in nature, accommodate the general public, and are open and welcoming in design character. However, facilities such as police and fire stations, while sometimes being partially open to the public, comprise many spaces that are intended to be occupied only by highly trained professionals. Spaces such as the following will represent unsafe or high-risk areas to the general public:
- Police holding cells,
- Police firing ranges, and
- Fire-fighting apparatus bays and equipment maintenance rooms.
Therefore, the design and functional layout of these facilities will vary widely. If there is one unifying theme to these building types, it is that the exterior architectural message should respect the cultural tastes and history of the community served.
As with all public buildings and buildings with a 24-hour staff, several design issues have gained increased attention over recent years:
- Quality of life issues for staff, particularly overnight staff, and health and safety concerns for patrons drive issues such as daylighting, the specification of non-toxic building materials, and the quality of finishes and the environment they create;
- Anti-terrorism/force protection measures are vital to protect life, protect physical assets, and to maintain operations in critical community service facilities such as police and fire stations; and
- Return on investment is of paramount importance and can be enhanced through the use of renewable energy sources and sustainable design principles.
As noted, the range of Community Services facility types is vast and varied:
- Banks/Credit Unions
- Central Laundry/Dry-Cleaning Facilities
- Community Centers
- Continuous Child Care Facilities
- Dining Facilities
- Family Service Centers
- Fire Stations
- Fitness Center
- Police Stations
- Post Offices
- Visitor Centers
- Youth Centers
- Building Research Information Knowledgebase (BRIK)—an interactive portal offering online access to peer-reviewed research projects and case studies in all facets of building, from predesign, design, and construction through occupancy and reuse.