Metro Water Service's Headworks Buildings sought to try and incorporate materials true to the function of the site, transparency, and forms that might be less introverted than the boxes of the previous schemes. After having studied wastewater treatment plants at other municipalities around the world, it was clear that many communities were wishing for more visibility into what happens inside, choosing to partner with their water utilities to educate rather than to hide what’s happening.
While Germantown has a long history of large, rectangular brick buildings, it also has a long history of single-family homes, many of which were narrow, clapboard, gabled forms. This concept combined the gabled form of many historic homes with the metal of utility and infrastructure campuses to come up with the overall shape. In addition, the desire for some transparency lead to a large, glassy wall facing the neighborhood across the street, allowing some glimpses to the equipment inside, and a radiant glow at night.
In addition, brick is incorporated around the base of the lower mass in front, and the rectangular spaces in the back, to integrate the colors of the project with the material so prevalent in the area. The outdoor exposed piping between the two large buildings is not screened because of the desire to be open about what’s happening here, and to build curiosity and engagement between the members of the city and this impressive piece of infrastructure that cleans its water.