New Judicial Complex to House Georgia Supreme Court, Define Architectural Identity of Downtown Atlanta

Stevens & Wilkinson selected as architecture, engineering, and interior design firm of record for Georgia Judicial Complex

ATLANTA – September 2017 – Stevens & Wilkinson, a full-service architecture, engineering and interior design firm based in Atlanta and Columbia, S.C., today announced plans for a new six-story, 210,000-square-foot judicial complex that will house the Georgia Supreme Court and Court of Appeals in the City of Atlanta.

The building will sit two blocks south of the capitol building, on a six-acre site just south of Interstate 85 where the long-unoccupied Georgia State Archives has been demolished to create space. Construction, led by Gilbane Building Company, is scheduled for completion by late 2019 with occupancy slated for early 2020.

The Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission (GSFIC) commissioned Stevens & Wilkinson to provide architecture, engineering, and interior design services for the project.

“Atlanta has a rich history of classical design. Aesthetically, we’ve taken cues from the state capital building itself, and the desire of the judges and justices to be respectful of that history and the many wonderful buildings near the capital,” said Bill Clark, AIA, LEED AP, principal at Stevens & Wilkinson, Atlanta.

The design team also includes Justice Planning Associates (JPA), a leading operational court consulting firm; Robert A. M. Stern Architects, one of the preeminent classical design architectural firms in the country; as well as civil engineering firm Kimley-Horn and Associates; security consultant Nichol Boyd; and landscape architect HGLR.

Historic, Cost-Efficient Design

The building’s neo-classical exterior relates the historic look of the Georgia State Capital, the John C. Godbold Federal Building / Elbert P. Tuttle U.S. Court of Appeals, and other historic state and federal buildings that define the architectural identity of downtown Atlanta. A curving, layered facade of Georgia granite and precast concrete is foregrounded by grand columns announcing the entrance. White Cherokee marble recycled from the Georgia State Archives building accents the exterior hardscape, and inside, a naturally lit public atrium, spanning all floors, provides an uninterrupted view of the Georgia State Capitol.

The design balances long-term functionality and aesthetic grace, with a desire for cost containment. “One of our goals for the project involves being good stewards of taxpayers’ money, while providing many elegant public features and elements for the complex,” Clark said. “This building may be the most important building in Georgia this century; the judicial work that will take place at the new site affects every Georgian.”

The judicial center’s span of six floors and a subsurface level will provide occupancy for 200 employees. It will include two wood-paneled courtrooms, one of which on the top floor will serve nine Georgia Supreme Court justices. The second will be located on the second floor serving 15-18 Court of Appeals judges.

Included in the interior layout will be office suites for judges, justices, and their clerks. Additional office space is being designed for administrative and case research functions, and a surface parking lot to the rear will offer a secure entrance for state employees. Temporary office space for current employees of two state agencies expected to vacate the building will provide room for future growth.

The main level entrance, at the corner of Capitol Avenue and Memorial Drive, is deliberately set at more than 50 feet from the roadway to provide safe building access for the general public, attorneys and court clerks. The lower level, serving as the entrance for office administrative agencies and Georgia State Bar employees, will include a loading dock and subsurface parking lot with 40-45 spaces.

Along Capitol Avenue, south of Interstate 85, landscaping and street lighting features will further enhance a pedestrian-friendly streetscape developed in preparation for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. The street-level design aligns with a Georgia State University development plan and Georgia Building Authority master plan that together include housing, mixed-use buildings, and academic space which intend to improve connectivity between Turner Field college football stadium and downtown Atlanta.

“The new judicial complex is a well-suited fit with Georgia State’s development, and the plans for the entire area. Not only are we eliminating an unoccupied building at the northern end of the redevelopment; we’re also providing a northern anchor for the Turner Field redevelopment,” Clark said.

Security and Growth of the Judicial Branch

The judicial center is based on a long-term collaborative planning process that recognizes security as a chief concern. Consistent with federal General Service Administration building guidelines, the building’s stacking plans provide strong structural demarcation between public areas and those accessible only to judges, judicial employees and law enforcement. A highly secured lobby entrance, defined by retractable bollards and attended at all hours by security personnel, prevents access to unauthorized individuals.

Prior to the design phase, the GFSIC commissioned Stevens & Wilkinson to perform extensive site and programing analysis to determine the current and future needs of the judicial branch, administrative agencies and law department for the State of Georgia. In partnership with JPA, the team determined the existing judicial complex failed to meet current building and safety codes, and lacked adequate office space for current and projected staff occupancy.

“The Supreme Court case load stays constant, but the Court of Appeals follows population growth. We’ve planned for the growth with the number of individual judicial suites for judges and clerks, and additional panels of judge’s rooms to add over time,” Clark said.

About Stevens & Wilkinson: Founded in 1919, Stevens & Wilkinson is a full-service architecture, engineering and interior design firm committed to providing clients with “Smart Design Solutions.” To learn more: www.stevens-wilkinson.com.

Supplemental Information Regarding the Georgia Judicial Complex

Stevens & Wilkinson Preserves and Defines Atlanta’s Architectural Legacy

Over the past 15 years, Stevens & Wilkinson has been hired by state and federal agencies as well as the City of Atlanta, to perform planning and architecture services on a number of award-winning buildings and civic projects near the Georgia State Capitol. These projects, including Liberty Plaza, the John C. Godbold Federal Building / Elbert P. Tuttle U.S. Court of Appeals, the Georgia Building Authority Health Building, the Georgia Technology Authority, and the City of Atlanta Public Safety Headquarters, have come to define the distinctive historic architectural identity of downtown Atlanta.

Bill Clark, AIA, LEED AP, principal at Stevens & Wilkinson, Atlanta, said wining the competitive bidding process for such projects has helped the firm develop a strong track record of success as recognized by the Georgia Building Authority and the Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission (GSFIC). In reviewing building proposals and awarding contracts, these agencies have acknowledged the firm’s ability to service important clients; meet deadline and budget goals; preserve historic building features; and collaborate effectively with a robust network of architects, engineers, contractors, and consultants.

“Our breadth of state work is extensive and is broadly spread across a number of agencies. Each one of these buildings went through a request for proposals process, and we are honored to have been awarded each of the projects,” Clark said.

In addition to Stevens & Wilkinson’s Atlanta office’s experience working with the State of Georgia, the firm’s South Carolina office has a well-established history of guiding the development and renovation of judicial buildings, including the South Carolina Supreme Court, South Carolina State House Renovation, the Sumter County Courthouse, and the Florence County, S.C., Judicial Center.

This expertise has proved integral to winning the contract for the new Georgia judicial center, which, in recent history, represents one of only a few commissioned State Supreme Court building projects in the nation. To create an iconic, lasting legacy for the State of Georgia; a building that relates back to the architectural legacy of Atlanta, while also providing long-term functional value to the Courts and the State of Georgia, the GFSIC commissioned Stevens & Wilkinson to perform extensive site and programing analysis prior to the design phase.

Stevens & Wilkinson, in partnership with Justice Planning Associates, evaluated six sites for the location for the new judicial complex. Several north of Turner Field were ruled out as too far from the capitol, and others, such as a site near Liberty Plaza, posed security concerns due to their proximity to the street and sidewalks. Engineering analysis showed the former Georgia State Archives had water damage and was structurally unfit for a cost-effective renovation, making its site a perfect location for the new complex.

The Stevens & Wilkinson team provided stacking plans and massing studies, as well as analysis and recommendations, for the future courthouse facility. These were submitted to the Georgia Building Authority’s Office of Planning and Budget for vetting and were approved by the state legislature.