The Ravalli Electric Cooperative provides power to the majority of the Bitterroot Valley, spanning from the south end of Lolo to the Idaho border. This region is experiencing a population boom and with that comes the need for the co-op to expand its services. This new 58,000 square foot dispatch and operations facility provides the organization with functional efficiency and space for growth in a new location central to their service region.
A mix of wood framed and pre-fabricated metal buildings, the compound settles comfortably into its rural valley setting. Gable roof forms were incorporated to tie into the pastoral landscape, local design aesthetic, and surrounding mountains. These simple forms, nicknamed ‘the huts,’ help to organize the programmatic elements, break down the exterior volume, and introduce different types of daylighting effects into the interiors. The crisp minimal detailing contributes to a contemporary aesthetic that ties in with the technical nature of the building, yet the feeling is still northwest and rural. The public entry and adjacent conference room take on a welcoming lodge-like feel with vaulted wood ceilings, large windows, and natural stone accents.
The orientation of the facility is north-south to take advantage of the views to the Bitterroot mountains to the west. A broad range of departments and functions create a large diversity within the design. Yet all functions are integrally linked and organized to maximize operations efficiency. The public spaces such as entry and training rooms are on the south end. The finance and engineering departments occupy the center of the building. While the linemen’s dispatch room, parts warehouse, vehicle bays, and wash bay are on the north end of the complex. A 6.2 acre staging yard for storing poles and equipment is located behind the vehicle bays.
Combining quality public spaces, generous offices, and highly optimized vehicle bays the new co-op provides an efficient workflow and space for the cooperative’s operations to continue to grow.
Photo credit: Hixson Studio
2020 AIA Montana Design Excellence Merit Award