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Metal and prominent design give operations and firing range a sleek, modern look

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Shelby County Sheriff’s Range Operations Building and Firing Range in Memphis, Tenn. ​Photo: Jeffrey Jacobs Photography

The new Shelby County Sheriff’s Range Operations Building and Firing Range in Memphis, Tenn., replaces the original range operations building that was destroyed by heavy flooding in 2011.

Jointly funded by the Shelby County government and the FBI, the facility is used for training by law enforcement agencies throughout the Mid-South region. Designed by Clark/Dixon Architects, Memphis, the building is made up of a main structure that serves as the operations center, classroom facility and weapons armory for the sheriff’s office training unit and FBI.

There is also a 35-point weapons firing range that supplements an existing 50-point firing range. Located between a detention pond and new building, the range is primarily used by the FBI, and can be expanded to a 50-point range with the purchase of additional targeting equipment. The existing firing range is located to the east of the original building.

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Photo: Jeffrey Jacobs Photography

Site Challenges

Since the original building was located below the Wolf River floodplain and subject to flooding, R. Larry Clark, AIA, partner at Clark/Dixon Architects, says one challenge was designing an elevated structure located above the 100-year floodplain that would still remain handicap accessible.

“The new Range Operations Building is partially seated on an elevated earthen surface and partially stilted to allow for storage of grounds maintenance and other equipment under the protection of the structure itself,” Clark says. “The approach to the building is along a gradually elevated drive to allow access to and from the structure even if substantial flooding were to occur.”

To contain site water runoff and alleviate the site’s flooding potential, a new detention pond was dug. The earth removed from the pond excavation was processed and used in the new site fill.

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Photo: Jeffrey Jacobs Photography

Prominent Features

The challenges of the building site itself led the designers to integrate a variety of prominent design features into the project. These include staircase that leads up to the lobby, the clerestory over the lobby, and the building’s sweeping roof planes. 

“The design concept from the beginning was to maximize the daylighting potential throughout the building,” Clark explains, “which led to the prominent clerestory over the building lobby and the extensive use of insulated, tinted, exterior glass.”

“The sweeping roof planes were conceived as a means to shade the large exterior glass areas as well as the exterior balconies and to add some dramatic effect to the elevated building,” he adds.

The clerestory rises above the surrounding roof surfaces and floods the lobby with natural light, while the sweeping roof lines shade the west-facing walls from the sun. Screen walls are located between the columns in the stilted portion of the building, and insulated metal panels (IMPs) from Kingspan Insulated Panels Inc., Deland, Fla., and Morin Corp., a Kingspan Group company, Bristol, Conn., were used for the walls and soffit. Kawneer Co. Inc., Norcross, Ga., supplied the clerestory and glazing products.

Inside, the administration offices are on the north side of the building, separated from the remainder of the building by the entry lobby. Four classrooms make up the southern two-thirds of the building, and the two middle classrooms can be combined into one space for large groups. All of the classrooms have access to a balcony overlooking the firing range for viewing of weapons training in progress. On the other side of the hall are the squad room, bathrooms and showers for trainees, and two weapons vaults—one for the county and the other for the FBI—along with an armory, file room and storage spaces. A large breakroom with a private balcony with views to the firing range and surrounding forest are at the southeast end of the building. A second balcony and elevated walkway provides access to the second floor of the original building, which is used for ammunition storage.

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Photo: Jeffrey Jacobs Photography

Low Maintenance

The goal was to design a modern building with minimal maintenance that would fit into the owner’s tight budget. In addition to being durable, energy efficient, sustainable and low maintenance, Clark notes that IMPs fit well with the overall design concept for the building.

For the roof, Memphis-based Steel and Roof Structures Corp. installed a standing seam roof system from Morin. The soffits are Kingspan Insulated Panels’ BENCHMARK by Kingspan Designwall 1000 IMPs. For the walls, Steel and Roof Structures installed BENCHMARK by Kingspan Designwall 1000 IMPs and BENCHMARK by Kingspan Designwall R  Series IMPs. All wall and soffit panels are in a Bright Silver Metallic Fluropon.

In addition to using sustainable and recyclable materials throughout, the project uses low-VOC paint and interior finishes, daylighting and energy-efficient lighting fixtures that have occupancy controls. Additionally, the stormwater design includes the detention pond to reduce the discharge rate off site to well below predevelopment levels.

Completed in February 2016, Clarks says the architects are proud of the quality of building they were able to provide on a very limited building budget.