The Middle District of Florida is one of the busiest court districts in the nation. The caseload per judge is approximately 20 percent above the national average. The question that arose was how to meet the district’s oversized needs in its existing undersized, under-secure courthouse?
The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) hired Heery Design in 1999 to serve as architects and engineers of record, in addition to providing on-site construction administration services for the new 330,000 SF George C. Young United States Courthouse and Federal Building Annex. The six-story structure, which includes an 8,000 SF atrium, houses 15 courtrooms, judges’ chambers, clerk of court, US Probation, US Pretrial services, the United States Marshall’s Service, two Grand Jury hearing rooms suites and a satellite circuit library. To help understand judges’ individual and collective requirements, Heery constructed a mock-up courtroom off site. Once completed, the design team spent six months working with judges to develop flexible courtrooms capable of easy furniture and IT reconfiguration. The fabrication and installation of art glass windows, part of GSA’s Art-in-Architecture program, required careful, constant oversight. Federal courthouse windows have to meet stringent requirements for blast resistance. The challenge was that the art glass created by renowned artist Al Held was not fabricated to meet those requirements. Heery resolved the problem by mounting the art glass to the interior window frame.
Several hurricanes along with a first-of-its kind art installation kept the design and construction team on its toes. Courthouse construction could have easily been delayed by four hurricanes, the worst of which undermined the building’s foundation. In addition, underground soil contamination, due to a buried fuel tank, was found on site during excavations. Quick remediation and close work with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection allowed the project to continue forward with minimal disruption. Judges believe the resulting contemporary monolithic pre-cast concrete and stone building, with its variety of materials, textures and colors, creates a feeling of stability and solidity that is appropriate to its purpose.
The facility’s design was dictated by four specific goals:
“This letter is to formally congratulate your firm for the first rate job you have once again delivered to GSA…The Orlando Annex project experience has been the most enjoyable of our professional careers…itis our sincere pleasure to be again linked with your firm on the upcoming Charlotte
Michael P. Fifty
Senior Project Manager
U.S. General Services Administration
AIA Orlando Chapter, Award of Excellence