1930’s Historic County Highway Garage Transformation
Top Projects of 2018 Award for the Door County –
New Community Center & EMS Headquarters
The Door County Community Center not only revitalized a historic 1930s highway garage but also incorporated an impressive array of uses into the Sturgeon Bay structure.
The $8.1 million project included both an extensive renovation of an existing building to provide a new space for the Aging and Disability Resource Center and a 10,000-square-foot addition for offices, crew quarters and ambulance garage for the county’s Emergency Services Department.
The county had previously considered two separate buildings for the two different county services. But combining these two projects on a county-owned piece of land proved to be less costly and more efficient than building new structures at separate sites.
“It was both a challenge and an opportunity to determine how we were going to transform a 1930s garage and convert it into a habitable space that worked for two purposes,” said John Cain, design director at Venture Architects. “There was one point in the project that we didn’t know if this was going to be possible. Thankfully, we did a number of studies to show us it was possible and we had a great team who worked together to make it happen.”
The difficulty in turning an 80-year-old highway shop into a modern building involved both structural and cosmetic considerations. Construction crews made repairs to wooden trusses and a masonry team skillfully blended new stonework with existing stone.
Grime was cleaned off wooden arches using soda blasting, which uses baking soda to clean and deodorize wood. The rehabbed beams were then stained.
“It’s always more challenging restoring or remodeling an existing structure than building new,” said Brandon Martzke, project manager at IEI General Contractors. “You never know what you are going to find in the existing structure, and you are constantly adapting the construction to fit the mold that the existing building gives you to work with.”
New windows were also installed between existing concrete buttresses to provide natural views and let people inside look out onto the building’s new deck space. Exterior restoration work included tuck-pointing, roof replacement and the repair of the building’s exterior shell.
“With the end of the project, I am really proud of two aspects,” said Ken Pabich, Door County administrator. “From a design standpoint, I am very pleased with how the history of the building was integrated into the design. When you see the wooden beams and the old crane above, it just makes you wonder about the old use of the building and how it was transformed into a beautiful Community Center.
“From an operational standpoint, I am very pleased with how the building is being used by the community,” he added. “With every program we track, we have seen significant increases in public involvement. I really enjoy when I walk in and I see the seating areas filled up with people playing cards or just socializing.” by Emily Bultman
Mary C. Piontkowski, PE, SE
Vice President | Director of Structural Engineering