MARION, IA — Two OPN Architects
-designed projects were honored with American Institute of Architects
(AIA) Impact Awards at the 2023 AIA Iowa Spring Conference. The award recognizes projects that represent design excellence and directly benefit social, humanitarian, community, or environmental issues.
Marion Fire Station No. 1 - Honor Award
This two-level, 21,000-square-foot fire station is the third for a rapidly growing community. The building— which also serves as the fire department’s headquarters — is the city’s first new station since 1991, when it was around half the size it is today. Its location on the city’s northern edge was selected to ensure that department continues to meet the national response time standards as the city continues to grow over the next decade. Biophilic design principles were employed to support fire fighters physical and mental health. According to the National Fire Prevention Association, cancer and cardiac arrest are the leading killers of firefighters.
The jury made the following comments: "The project successfully elevates the civic building typology through thoughtful design, careful material selection, and well-composed spaces, expanding the public’s definition of a fire station. It clearly celebrates the firefighter’s service and commitment to their community. We appreciate the project’s ability to transition and extend the interior living spaces from inside to outside. The jury is impressed by the project’s impact and design excellence, particularly given its budget."
Lester Buresh Family Community Wellness Center - Merit Award
This multi-purpose community facility supports the physical, mental, and social well-being of residents as both an informal gathering space and fitness center. Located between a residential neighborhood and school campus, it was critical that the building be transparent and welcoming. Taking advantage of the site, the gymnasium is nestled into the topography creating a protected courtyard at the east, entry plaza to the north, and community garden and space for a future pool to the west. In its first year, the center drew more than 1,500 members (some from over 50 miles away) and hosted more than 150 community or private events.
The jury made the following comments: "The Wellness Center presents a beautiful and clearly resolved building, with two bars slipping past each other and integrated into the landscape. The result is a joyful and bright space that creates a place of belonging and draws in the community. The project communicates a clear concept resolved at multiple scales, a particular challenge given the building’s size and complexity."