Chicago Unveils Its Shiny New, Environmentally, Friendly Police Station

The Chicago Police department has a brand new, environmentally-friendly police station in Little Italy.  The new District 12 Police Station (1412 South Blue Island Avenue) replaces the old 12th and 13th district stations on South Racine Street and North Wood Street.  It’s part of the department’s ongoing consolidation program, which is designed to use efficiencies of scale to save the city money.  But if you’ve ever been in either of the former police stations, you know that a new precinct house is long overdue.

An overflow crowd of over 300 curious people from the city’s Near West Side packed the community hall and the lobby of the new building on Saturday (December 15, 2012).  After the blessing of the building and ribbon-cutting ceremony, people were fed pizza and led on tours of the station.

Police work has changed a lot in the last 50 years, and these days a lot of it is about paperwork and computers.  Because of this, a good portion of the building looks like any other office building, with the standard cubical farm.  But then there are many parts of the building that are new and interesting to those who haven’t been a guest of Superintendent McCarthy recently.

Much of the building has been designed with durability in mind, which is to be expected since it has to serve the rough-and-tumble profession of professional police work, plus deal with the sorts of people who would get their jollies from damaging things inside.  In many of the cells and holding areas, the floors are slightly tilted so that the joint can be hosed out, if necessary.  The walls are burnished blocks, and the floors durable terrazzo.  If you went to Catholic school, the construction will look very familiar.

Check out the photo gallery following this list of building highlights:

  • Architect of Record: VOA
  • Developer: City of Chicago Public Building Commission
  • General Contractor: Harbour Contractors
  • Contract: $21,536,564.78.  The building came in 18% under budget.
  • Geothermal heating and cooling, with a boiler for backup heat.
  • Load-bearing masonry building.
  • Made with
  • Building-wide fiber optic network.
  • 44,000 square feet
  • Six Drunk Tanks, which is not the preferred nomenclature these days,  “Group Holding,” please.
  • Gym with full-time trainer
  • Community room with seating for 100.
  • Designed to be used as a seasonal heating or cooling center.
  • High-tech line-up rooms.
  • Quiet room for counseling/consoling victims.
  • Separate locker rooms for men, women, and supervisors.  Some lockers are designed for handicapped officers.
  • Security cameras monitoring the parking lots, so that the local gangs can’t take revenge on unmonitored cop cars like they’ve done at other police stations.
  • Parking for 225 cars.
  • Four electric vehicle charging stations.
  • Water harvesting system to use rainwater for flushing toilets and irrigating the landscaping.
  • Water-permeable paving to keep rainwater out of the sewer system.
  • 150-foot-tall communications tower.
  • Green roof alert!  50% coverage.
  • Non-green portions of the roof are made of reflective material to cut down on heat absorption.
  • Water strategies are expected to reduce the amount of drinking water used by this building by 94%.
  • Building is made from 21% recycled materials.
  • Eighteen percent of the wood used in this building came from sustainable forests.
  • Forty-six percent of the material used to build this building came from within 500 miles of Chicago.
  • Seventy-five percent of the waste generated during construction was recycled or reused elsewhere.
  • Whenever possible, materials that do not emit fumes were used in this building, so it doesn’t have that “new police station” smell.
  • Designed to meet LEED Gold standards.

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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