When the town of Firestone called upon Roth Sheppard Architects to design a new facility comprising a police station, municipal court, and community room, it wasn’t just looking for a team that could create functional physical spaces—which, with their drastically different uses and security requirements, would have been challenging enough. It also needed experts to devise a structure that would convey a feeling of refuge, not just for citizens—who are often intimidated by a visit to the police station—but for the law-enforcement professionals who would call this their home base.

An oculus frames blue skies. Photo by James Florio

The structure the team developed is defined by a long, canopy roof “that almost seems to be coming out of the earth,” says architect Samantha Strang, who was on site often as FCI Constructors brought the design to life. “It’s like a welcoming arm, pointing to people to pull them in.” Supporting it are concrete-board-clad columns that frame Front Range views in dramatic fashion. As visitors walk alongside the colonnade on their way from the parking lot to the main entry, they pass an oculus that pierces the roof; just beyond it, they encounter a wall of windows. “We’re really trying to play on this idea of transparency, in terms of materials and in our desire for the public to understand what’s going on in these spaces,” explains Brian Berryhill, a partner at Roth Sheppard.

Inside the lobby and adjacent public spaces, wood ceilings convey an inviting sense of warmth. In the separate-but-connected police department, the palette is cooler, with tall, light-filled, white-walled volumes creating a sense of uplift that balances the strong forms and heavy materials conveying power and protection.

Concrete-board-clad columns catch golden-hour light. Photo by James Florio

Though its psychological cues are clear, the building never reveals how hard it’s working to create them. Visitors don’t see complex concepts of tension and balance; just a long arm reaching out to welcome them in.