Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff Headquarters & EOC

Project Description

Workplaces should enrich people’s work life, no matter their profession. The workplace innovations that have improved private sector office environments—collaboration, stress-reduction, social connectivity—should also enrich public safety workplaces. Law enforcement and emergency operations environments are dynamic and high-stress, and they can benefit greatly from contemporary emphasis on employee well-being, team-building, adaptability and resilience.


This project builds upon contemporary workplace research by creating an innovative, flexible and user-centric public safety work environment. This design prioritizes operational social territories to make architecture out of the particularities of social engagement. Each social territory is designed with a unique strategy for accommodating flexibility, daylighting, technology, group interaction, and its relationship to the outdoors. Within this new 38,200 sf headquarters building, each of the building’s social territories function like a smaller building-within-a-building, prioritizing the ability to focus, collaborate, gather, and connect.

The design features these social territories as discreet architectural volumes, sculpted to the operational needs of their programs. The critical-facility emergency operations center thrives as an armature for collaboration, with a technology-rich, flexible open floor ringed by break-out rooms. The multi-use training and event hall facilitates social gathering through an indoor/outdoor, adaptable space anchored by a redwood grove. Daylight and views of nature increase workplace focus in the administration and command staff areas, utilizing soft ambient daylight and an introverted office volume to optimize solo work. To connect, a shaded-plaza entry trellis pinpoints the confluence of site and building circulation, engaging the shared dining and fitness areas, and functioning as a campus crossroads.

New public safety projects that incorporate contemporary workplace innovations can validate the unique needs of officers, command staff and emergency responders. By prioritizing productive connectivity between people, and between people and nature, the public safety work environment will see immediate operational and personnel benefits.


The new Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff Headquarters and Emergency Operations Center (HQ/EOC) is a 38,200 square foot, two-story LEED Gold headquarters building within a larger reconfigured 4.46 acre campus master plan.

The HQ/EOC houses the Office of the Sheriff’s command staff, the County’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), the Sheriff’s Administration offices, as well as a flexible event space, a commercial kitchen, a shared break area, and a fitness room. The building is an essential services facility, designed to for immediate post-disaster occupancy. It is a steel moment frame structure, with ballistic resistant, profiled and smooth precast concrete panels, and ballistic windows; the white shade structures are laser-cut painted steel plate.

The overall redesign campus is 4.5 acres, and the project included the adaptive reuse of the existing EOC building as a new training facility. The site is configured for public parking, high security staff parking, photo-voltaic panel arrays, stormwater retention and bio-filtration areas, a redwood grove, and improved access to the array of existing operational buildings in the area.

Design Challenge

One key project challenge was to reconcile a robust secure technical facility with a collaborative light filled operational environment. Staff benefits from personal interaction and stress mitigation, while security required hardening and segregation. In addition, the facility was to have a public component, adding a new layer of challenge. The final design reconciles these seemingly conflicting demands through an approach where security is transparent and understated, and the social connectivity emphasized. Another design challenge was that the project was to be constructed using a Design/Build procurement method, with bridging documents clearly defining both the quantitative as well as intangible qualitative aspects of the building and site design. Through a well-developed design/bridging set, continuity between design/bridging and design/build was seamless and ongoing.

Physical Context

The context for this project is an existing County Government Center campus, with a fragmented array of existing buildings arranged randomly on the multi-acre site. The Office of the Sheriff occupied a few of the buildings, but with inter-building connections tenuous at best.  The updated master plan strategy cleared the existing campus clutter with a dramatic new east-west connector, demolishing unhealthy buildings, slicing/preserving those worth restoring and anchoring the campus with the social amenities of the new HQ/EOC. This new connector links the new building with the existing buildings/operations, and extends the HQ social territories with a focus on training, dispatch, and implementation. As the County Government Center is in a suburban context surrounded by large, industrial parcels, and a freeway, a key contextual amenity becomes the project’s relationship to nature. To foster this relationship, access to outdoors is prioritized with each department having a secure, dedicated roof deck immediately adjacent to it. In addition, the central gathering area for staff and visitors—a multi-purpose event space and lecture hall—has a 30’-wide operable glass wall that lifts to open this large room to a dramatic restored Redwood grove, offering a regenerative social attractor an outdoor amenity at the heart of the project.