Middlebury company designs state building

MIDDLEBURY — Gov. Peter Shumlin on Jan. 12 cut the ribbon on a new state office building in the heart of St. Albans. Vermont Integrated Architecture (VIA) of Middlebury designed the building as part of a team assembled by development firm ReArch Co. in South Burlington. Replacing a vacant and crumbling brick building on Federal Street, the 45,100-square-foot office building, which will house approximately 168 employees in six departments of the Agency of Human Services, is a large part of the planned revitalization of the city of St. Albans.
One of the main challenges in the building’s design was making its sizeable structure fit in a more diminutive downtown streetscape. VIA’s architects addressed this challenge by breaking up the massive brick façade with a metal panel and varying the window spacing, giving the appearance of two distinct buildings. In addition, storefront glass at street level and a steel canopy overhead tie in with similar features on neighboring buildings. “It was important that this contemporary building fit within the context of historic downtown St. Albans,” said VIA architectural designer Sam Ostrow. 
Despite budget constraints, VIA was able to incorporate many sustainable features to ensure the building’s energy efficiency and durability: granite along the base of the building to withstand salt used on the sidewalks, use of regionally-sourced brick and high-recycled content structural steel, efficient building mechanical systems with energy recovery technology, and comprehensive air sealing and insulation. In addition, all lights have motion sensors and all bathroom and sink fixtures have water-saving features.
The building’s occupants are thrilled with the new building, designed to foster greater connections, both internally and externally. Private offices for the sensitive and confidential matters of vulnerable clients surround a more public space with cubicles and conference rooms for greater collaboration among departments. “It’s easier to connect in this building the way it’s set up,” says Agency of Human Services St. Albans Field Director Linda Prior. And, the centrally located building is expected not only to be more accessible to the clients who receive services there but also to bring more customers to downtown businesses.
Collaboration and teamwork seem to be an overarching theme of the project. Ostrow said he was impressed by the speed at which a project of this magnitude was completed. VIA began the design process in the summer of 2013, construction began in late December of 2013, and employees began moving in only a year later.
“Extraordinary teamwork and collaboration made it possible,” Ostrow said, “and the result is something we can all be proud of.”

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