Fresno-area residents no longer will have to jam into a cramped and aging Department of Motor Vehicles office in central Fresno.
Instead, they can get their driver's licenses and car registrations at a modern, appealing and much more spacious office that opens Monday at Olive and Weber avenues. The former office has been closed since May 28.
The new $9 million building is twice as big and can handle four times the crowds as the old office, a half-century-old brick structure that will be demolished next month.
Although the exterior of the new building has an industrial look with sleek metal and tan bricks, the interior is spacious and airy, with features that make a nod to the Valley's agricultural traditions. The interior beams spanning the room look like irrigation pipes. The floor is accented by brown tile that suggest row crops.
Those agricultural-themed flourishes were by design, said Christine Fitzpatrick, the DMV's project manager.
"Because Fresno is known for it's agricultural heritage, I wanted to bring it to the attention of the community. I didn't want it to be just a building," she said.
Fitzpatrick said the theme is carried through even to the front entrance on Olive Avenue. "The silo, or the entrance rotunda, is the main focal point of the building."
While the building reflects the Valley's heritage, it also incorporates some of the latest technology to save energy. A sweeping bank of windows along the top of one wall floods the room with daylight. But as the sunlight dims, the interior lights glow brighter.
"If the sun goes down, the lights in the building will become brighter, and vice versa," she said.
Solar panels are being added to the structure, along with planned carports that will have solar panels, as well. The carports are scheduled to be completed in January.
"We have a lot of clerestory lighting in the space that brings day lighting into the building, so we bring in a lot more natural light, and we have to use a lot less electricity. It has that shed look to it, which is also part of the theme of a farm shed with high ceilings that brings in natural light," Fitzpatrick said.
All of these energy-saving additions may, in fact, make the office California's first state-owned zero net energy building, Fitzpatrick said. That means that the energy consumed by the building in one year is less than or equal to the renewable energy generated on site by solar panels.
The new office, at 19,908 square feet, is about double the size of the old building. With 26 operating windows and multiple test lanes, the new building has the capacity to serve 1,500 to 2,000 people a day. The original office served around 500 customers a day. The DMV says the office does not expect to add any new employees to its current staff of 44.
On Thursday afternoon, workers were frantically setting up phone and Internet connections and employee cubicles.
Although some furniture had yet to be moved in, and floors still had to be polished, Fitzpatrick enthusiastically affirmed that all work would be completed in time for opening at 8 a.m. Monday.
Today's opening does not signal the end of construction. Beginning in mid-July, the old office will be demolished. The area will be paved over for use as parking, which is expected to be completed in 2015.
Central San Joaquin
Valley DMV offices
Most California Department of Motor Vehicle offices are open weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Wednesdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Appointments: Follow links on the offices page at www.dmv.ca.gov or call (800) 777-0133
Fresno: 655 W. Olive Ave.
Fresno North: 6420 N. Blackstone Ave.
Fresno Commercial Driver's Licenses: 735 E. North Ave.
Clovis: 2103 Shaw Ave.
Coalinga: 406 E. Elm Ave.
Mendota: 655 Quince St. (Thursdays and Fridays only)
Reedley: 558 E. Dinuba Ave.
Madera: 1206 Maple St.
Hanford: 701 W. Hanford Armona Road (corner of West Armona)
Porterville: 329 E. Olive Ave.
Tulare: 274 E. Cross Ave.
Visalia: 1711 E. Main St.
Merced: 1313 W. 12th St.
Los Banos: 814 W. L St.
Mariposa: 5264 Highway 49-North
Delano: 631 Jefferson St.
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6659 or firstname.lastname@example.org.