DMV in the News

The new DMV headquarters was recently the subject of an article in the Providence Journal. The building, which is slated to open its doors August 25th, is a renovation of the Aime Forand Building in the Pastore Center in Cranston. Lerner Ladds + Bartels and its team of consultants have been working on the design since 2008.

Understandably, the public is curious. “Nearly every Rhode Islander passes through the doors of the DMV. You can’t say that about most government buildings,” notes principal Kathleen Bartels. “And that experience hasn’t been good.”

The team expects that to change, but as the Providence Journal article noted, not right away. That’s because the new computer systems won’t be ready in time for opening. “It would have been much easier for the DMV to say: ‘Here’s our equipment; design around it.’ But instead they took the harder and more commendable route, seizing the move as an opportunity to redesign the whole system. There will be bugs to work out.” In the long run, the long lines will be a thing of the past. “Wouldn’t it be nice if you have business at the DMV, you don’t have to take a day off work and pack a lunch,” joked Bartels.

The new building will not only have new systems, it will be a more humane environment. “Right now, the customer walks through the door bracing for aggravation. The employees start the day bracing for hostile customers. It’s a negative environment from the start, in temporary space [the old Apex] that was never designed for the DMV.”

As the Providence Journal article noted, visitors will enter into a large airy space “bathed in natural light as part of a three-story atrium in the center of the building.” The team took advantage of the existing features of the building – including the skylight and atrium – to design sustainably and efficiently. “At first, moving from a one-story space to a three-story building was a huge design challenge,” said Principal Chris Ladds. “However, we turned it to an advantage by using the levels to filter transactions. We also used the levels to make our mechanical systems more efficient.” Creative Environment Corp designed the heating and cooling system. In addition to high-efficiency mechanical systems and daylight dimming, the building also incorporates green materials such as bamboo, linoleum, recycled carpet, and durable porcelain tile.

Project Manager Aimee Goodwin Lombardo, who has helped shepherd the project from its inception through construction, is thrilled at the emerging result. “It’s been a long haul, but it’s so rewarding to see it come together. It was a great opportunity to recycle and repurpose an old building, especially one that no one thought could be turned into anything redeemable. We love a challenge.”

Read the article at www.projo.com.

See more images of the renovation for the RI Division of Motor Vehicles.