South Sound 911 issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) in June 2017 for an architectural and engineering team to work on the design of the public safety communications center (PSCC). From that competitive process, CallisonRTKL was awarded a contract to perform programming and pre-design architectural and engineering services, and followed by a contract for the schematic design and design development phases.

The vision for the PSCC was unveiled to the public at a community meeting on Aug. 22, 2018. 


South Sound 911’s public safety communications center (PSCC) will include space for 911 and police and fire dispatch, a municipal emergency operations center EOC), administration, records and public counter services. It will be constructed to meet National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), National Emergency Number Association (NENA), and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) standards for essential facilities.

Design Overview

Beginning April 2018, South Sound 911’s PSCC entered into the schematic design phase, which concerns the building’s functional layout. South Sound 911 staff at all levels began providing input on spatial needs, workflows and departmental relationships. That work generated a basic layout of the three-story building, from which the exterior could be designed. (See the basic space plans for the ground levelsecond level and third level.)

While some aspects of the building are more traditional in design, such as the offices and administrative space, some aspects of the building require more open space, such as the communications operations area. The architects drew inspiration from many sources, including museums, where there is a need for large spaces, controlled lighting, and typically do not have many windows. Acoustical engineers will provide insight on ways to help control sound, so the critical work of answering 911 calls and dispatching responders will not be burdened by unwanted environmental noise.

For the exterior, designers envision the use a mix of materials including insulated metal panels, vertical seam metal panels, precast concrete, ipe wood, and metal canopies and railings. Fenced areas restricted to employee use and access, will be an aesthetically pleasing metal which this also secure, but not too obtrusive.

The public safety architectural engineering and design experts are also working to ensure the PSCC itself is strong enough for South Sound 911 to ensure survive-ability and continuity of operations. Like other essential facilities, it will be designed to withstand natural or man-made catastrophic events so South Sound 911 may continue providing critical emergency services for first responders and the countywide community. 

The building’s gross size is 74,528 sq. ft. See site sections of the design, West-East and South-North, as well as the predicted massing view compared to the massing view of the hospital buildings which previously occupied the site.

The Traffic Impact Analysis was completed in March 2019, and responses have been added to the initial comments from the City of Tacoma’s Traffic Engineering department.


While not an exhaustive list, the public safety communications center will include:

  • 911 and dispatch operations and an emergency operations center (EOC)
  • Administrative space with a lobby and public counter for services such as fingerprinting, concealed pistol license application processing and other services
  • Equipment for radio communications
  • Generators and water and fuel tanks for emergency operations
  • Secure employee parking
  • Visitor parking
  • Landscaping / landscape buffering (see the landscape plan and landscape typologies)
  • An extended setback of 82′ to meet standards for essential facilities (see the site layout)