Polk County Justice Center

Des Moines, Iowa

150,000 GSF

The Juvenile Justice Center building was one of three projects initiated by the county to reduce overcrowding and improve the local court system’s safety. Together with OPN Architects, Alvine Engineering worked to design engineering systems that catered towards each of the center’s unique services: public, judicial, and detainee spaces. The task was made even more difficult since the space served the community originally as a department store from the 1970’s to early 2000. Through the design of high ceilings, a centralized open staircase, and daylighting, the once dreary and neglected space now offers a calm environment that is user-friendly and easy to navigate.


  • Architectural lighting design services were provided to incorporate LED lighting solutions throughout the interior spaces that reduced the lighting power density to be 53% better than code minimum.
  • New lighting control systems were incorporated into the design that provide individual control throughout the center.
  • The building is heated by means of gas-fired sequential boilers that heat water, which is distributed to terminal heating devices by means of a steel and/or copper piping system and centrifugal circulation pumps.
  • A new 480V, 3-phase, electrical distribution system was designed to provide convenient power solutions throughout the facility.
  • Acoustical design included solutions for acceptable sound quality and sound isolation in designated spaces.
  • Audiovisual systems include sound reinforcement, video evidence display for the courtrooms, speech amplification and recording, video presentation for training rooms and conference rooms, and digital signage and room scheduling systems.
  • Technology infrastructure for voice/data cabling, IT space design, backbone and horizontal cabling, as well as primary and secondary pathways were designed.
  • Security design included access control, door monitoring, and video surveillance.

Photography credit: Kessler Photography

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