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In public safety, time makes all the difference. When lives are at stake, reducing response times is critical. 

Time is also important when building public facilities that provide essential public services. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once famously said “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” He spoke these words in the aftermath of a public safety crisis when the House of Commons was bombed out in May 1941 and the government addressed plans to rebuild. Churchill summarized what I think we all know; the roofs under which our officials gather to protect us must do a great deal.

In 2017, DFW International Airport approved a project to replace its existing outdated, undersized, and inefficient Department of Public Safety building built in the 1970s. Today, providing effective public safety related to policing, fire protection, and emergency services requires a very different type of facility, one that serves each safety function effectively, but also creates an environment that fosters a high level of collaboration internally within departments and with outside agencies.

With over 175,000 daily passengers and 64,000 workers throughout the airport, maintaining safety and security of people and property is a significant responsibility for DFW Airport’s public safety departments. If you have passed through the DFW International Airport, you know it is big. What you may not know is just HOW big; it is larger than the island of Manhattan, the second busiest airport in the nation (the fourth busiest in the world) and is the second largest airport by land area in the United States.

Recognizing the need to bring the new Department of Public Safety Headquarters building on-line as quickly as possible, DFW Airport leadership made a bold move in selecting the design-build project delivery method. Design-build project delivery is prevalent nationally and internationally, however, its application remains limited in North Texas.

DFW Airport selected JE Dunn Construction to lead the design-build team for the project. We’re proud to have had consistent success in utilizing the design-build project delivery method to save time and money in delivering projects of this nature—especially for public facilities. JE Dunn and its design partner, PGAL, moved the project from concept to the final design phase at a guaranteed price in a mere 10 weeks. The project was designed and constructed in only 24 months. It saved 4-6 months of time and helped benefit the public by bringing the facility online much quicker.

The high level of collaboration resulted in this two-story, 130,000 square foot facility that includes a myriad of the state-of-the-art amenities. Design elements in the locker room specifically address the increased number of women in public safety. They also address the array of personal technology that a public safety officer now utilizes. For instance, each locker has outlets to recharge various personal electronic devices. The gym and training areas were designed to accommodate the current trends in personal and group training.

In March, JE Dunn was recognized with the ABC National Excellence in Construction’s “Pyramid Award” for the General Contractor, Commercial category for projects $25 to $100 million for our work on the DFW International Airport Department of Public Safety Headquarters. Early this year, the project also was recognized by the Design Build Institute of America as the Aviation sector’s top project. We were proud to accept these awards and did so on behalf of the women and men improving our public safety day in and day out. Receiving this recognition gave us a moment to reflect back on the power of efficiencies and the value of time.

When you think of what a difference time can make in preparedness and, how over the past 18 months public safety has been at the forefront at airports between a global pandemic and a historic weather event, we’re thankful that DFW leadership had the foresight to embrace the design-build project delivery method. I can’t think of a more powerful testament to collaboration and the value of public safety.