Building for the next generation: San Juan County explores development of new Public Services Center

Submitted by San Juan County

As San Juan County celebrates its 150th anniversary as an organization, this milestone brings the responsibility to prepare for the next 150 years of providing the services, programs, and community assets that islanders deserve. This fall, San Juan County begins exploring how to invest in the infrastructure needs of future generations.

The County is seeking to consolidate a number of departments and functions currently housed in various aged buildings into a new center that supports and facilitates County operations, provides for community use, and reflects the County’s sustainable energy ethic. The County has hired Miller Hull Partnership to lead the design effort. The consultant presented preliminary project details to the San Juan County Council on Oct. 23

What’s Being Proposed?

The County has decided to study the removal of the non-historic courthouse wings and the replacement of the Court and Sheriff programs with a new public services center, along with a seismic upgrade and renovation of the historic courthouse. This new configuration would consolidate the operations of 18 different County departments that are currently housed in five different buildings. The building will also provide new inside and outside spaces for community use. This is intended to be an amenity for the community, not just a facility for the County.

Project History

This is not the first time San Juan County has explored updating its infrastructure. This has been a 20-year discussion with planning efforts in the 1980s, 90s, and 2000s. In 2018, the County led a 10-month effort to develop a master plan for a new County administration building in Friday Harbor. This effort included the expertise of the Miller Hull Partnership, in conjunction with an interdisciplinary team of design professionals. The process included programming efforts, community outreach, two initial site alternatives, and a final preferred option selected for further development.

What’s Next?

Currently in the ‘Program Verification and Master Planning’ stage, the County is working closely with Miller Hull Partnership to assess internal needs, gather department feedback, and establish a financial plan. Next, the County will enter the ‘Schematic Design Stage,’ at which point Miller Hull will produce a design that illustrates the general scope, scale, and relationship of project components. The design will be conceptual in character and ready for public input.

The County will use this first schematic design to lead community discussions, solicit public feedback, and hone the final product. Those interested in following the project progress can subscribe to updates on the Engage page: