Natural Gas Authority
Operations Center VIDEO
Objective: an efficient, safe, readily accessible operations and maintenance facility to serve the Authority’s three regional offices, acquiring and delivering natural gas equipment and services to homes, businesses and industries throughout its roughly 550-square-mile service area.
Client: Lancaster County Natural Gas Authority (LCNGA)
Location: Lancaster, South Carolina
Size: 12,816 square-foot office/warehouse renovation;
4,000 square-foot warehouse; 3,000 square-foot truck shed
- a small, elevated, triangular parcel at the junction of two well-traveled highways
- a challenging, tightly sloped site bisected by a failing retaining wall
- constricted and unsafe existing traffic patterns
- tractor-trailer access required
- an existing low-ceilinged commercial office and warehouse building with no plumbing, HVAC, fire protection or ventilation systems
- cost-conscious client with tight budget
Lancaster County Natural Gas Authority does a brisk business in a booming market, with nearly 3,000 existing residential customers and roughly 1,000 new service requests each year.
Located just southeast of metropolitan Charlotte, North Carolina, Lancaster County is South Carolina’s second-fastest-growing county, attracting commuters seeking affordable homes in good neighborhoods. To accommodate its expanding customer base and service territory, the Authority needed to hire additional staff, construction crews and field workers, as well as significantly increase its office, operations and storage space.
The Authority soon found the room it needed to grow, located literally across the street from its headquarters. A 1922-era lumberyard, abandoned since 2015, on an irregularly sloped triangular parcel littered with dilapidated office, shop, and warehouse buildings was available, affordable and conveniently located.
After demolishing the unusable structures and gutting the remaining one, the Authority called on Carlisle Associates to transform the old commercial eyesore into a modern utility hub.
Recognizing the need for a highly functional yet economical facility – a workhorse, not a show pony – Carlisle reoriented the site by addressing latent safety issues, improving vehicular access and equipment storage, and recognizing significant value in the existing building.
To maximize usable area, Carlisle replaced a sitewide retaining wall with a pair of strategically placed walls: one to partition a portion of the property into two complementary segments to be leveled, paved and repurposed for vehicle circulation and secure storage; the other to revamp the loading dock’s hazardous drive approach and apron space. This grade enhancement leverages the site’s grade drop and integrates the warehouse end-wall foundation into one of the retaining walls, an innovative solution that reduced construction costs, prevents erosion, improves bioretention, and directs stormwater runoff to an existing grassed detention basin, where it is prefiltered and released to city stormwater systems. Reimagining the grade also allows for a future warehouse expansion.
Based on traffic modeling studies, zoning regulations, and federal (AASHTO) large vehicle movement standards, Carlisle minimized physical constraints and visual obstructions to improve ingress, egress, visibility, and mobility. Atop the footprint of an existing truck path, Carlisle reconfigured and repaved delivery routes to optimize vehicle circulation, giving tractor-trailers direct access to all docks, with clear sightlines and sweep areas that eliminate the need to back blindly into highway traffic. Transportation routes and parking options are now much safer and more agile for the field crews, technicians, linesmen, and draftsmen who are dispatched daily from the center’s operational facilities.
The former sales office is constructed of brick-and-block bearing walls with a decorative double-t-beam precast concrete roof system. With noncombustible, fire-resistant materials and methods, this 1950s industrial building style is structurally ideal for a natural gas facility. Carlisle also converted the rear of the building into a warehouse with a partially enclosed canopy-covered loading dock. This dock redesign allows tractor-trailers to unload directly and safely and provides forklift access throughout the site.
Seamlessly maintaining the building’s clean, mid-century modern aesthetic, Carlisle incorporated offices, storage areas, an information technology center, and ADA-compliant parking facilities. The sensitive makeover also includes new fire detection and prevention systems; special ductwork to preserve ceiling heights; interior insulation to bring the thermal envelope up to code; a refurbished dock canopy for improved appearance and function; a bold floor-embedded logo to set the stage for a planned appliance showroom; and fresh exterior paint to complement and coordinate with the nearby headquarters office.
By optimizing the location’s assets and modifying its constraints, Carlisle Associates delivered an attractive operations center with built-in efficiency, safety, and room to grow.