Friday, October 19, 2007


I am really disappointed to read that the Franklin County Court House design may change from the bottom image to the top image. Pizutti has really made a sincere effort to come up with a unique design that embraces environmentally friendly practices and interacts well with the site and the surrounding buildings. Downtown which has lost its architectural history through demolition cannot afford to put up another bland appearing building. While I recognize that their are financial limitations to consider I strongly believe that we are once again missing a unique opportunity to create a new image for our downtown by not creating an architecturally significant civic building. Full story below.

Courthouse price tag soars by $11 million
Friday, October 19, 2007 3:53 AM
By Barbara Carmen
Franklin County commissioners were reeling from sticker shock yesterday, after learning their dazzling, $105 million glass courthouse could run 10 percent over budget unless they make hard choices.
"It looks like $11 million in compromises," Commissioner Paula Brooks said after meeting with architects.
Designers described the proposed ways to stay on budget as "value engineering options."
Commissioners had an immediate reaction to the redesigned exteriors. They didn't like them.
"It looks kind of like an old post office," Brooks said. "Where have these issues been before? This is a pretty big design change."
Architects allowed that the projector they were using wasn't the best, but they didn't argue that they liked the original -- and pricier -- designs better.
Mike Bird of Pizzuti Solutions, which is overseeing the project for commissioners, said they're not over budget, and choices made in coming weeks by commissioners will keep it that way.
General conceptual designs were unveiled in June. Actual engineering recently provided a clearer price tag.
"This is how these projects go. You have to fine-tune. Rarely do they come in under budget," Bird said. "We're saying to commissioners: Here are some options. Here are some opportunities."
Some proposed cuts were better received than others. For example, commissioners indicated it makes sense to eliminate 4-foot-deep ledges on the north side of the building. That will save $2.2 million in construction materials. And the windows will be cheaper to clean because crews won't need to stretch.
"Four feet -- that's as big as me!" quipped Commissioner Marilyn Brown, who is not quite that petite.
The redesign might also please the Downtown Commission, whose members compared the deeply recessed facade to a parking garage.
That commission has the ability to kill a project it doesn't like, but Chairman Harrison Smith said he'll wait to pass judgment until he sees the choices commissioners make.
"It's a question of whether these trade-offs are made in sensible ways," Smith said. "I think we have to recognize budget constraints. The place I don't like to see them come, I guess, is at a time this late in the process."
One proposal already raising eyebrows is the use of pre-cast concrete on the west side of the building. The original design has walls of windows facing the river. This glass would be discarded in 2030 if the courthouse is expanded.
Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy appeared skeptical: "So it would look like that for 20 years? That's a significant change in the look and feel of the building.
"I've asked all along, 'Could we build this building with this budget?' The building seems not quite the same building we were getting before."
David A. Brehm of the DesignGroup, lead architect on the project, told commissioners they are keenly aware that they're producing an "important building … But, we're driven to meet budget."
The public likely won't notice many of the change options outlined yesterday: For example, designers suggested using cheaper floor coverings in support-staff areas and shaving a few inches off each courtroom.
Cumulative savings, however, would be huge.
Brehm told commissioners he wanted to "get a feel for your acceptance" before proceeding with more detailed design drawings and showing changes to those who will use the new Common Pleas courthouse.
Watching closely is Judge Richard A. Frye, who said commissioners must weigh short-term costs with a long-term investment.
"They've never really had any hard designs to put a budget against," Frye said. "This building will really be a landmark. We can't roll over and make this thing a mess."

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