The new judicial center will anchor the city’s broader redevelopment

COLUMBIA, S.C. – March 2018 – Stevens & Wilkinson, a full-service architecture, engineering and interior design firm based in Atlanta and Columbia, South Carolina, announced today the completion of the Florence County Judicial Center. The firm serves as the architecture, engineering and interior design firm of record for the county.

The completed facility, which was constructed for $32 million and is 120,000-square-foot is located across from Florence County’s existing County Administration Building. The new three-story structure provides space for approximately 170 court employees and represents the different functions of the circuit court, family court, probate court, Clerk of Court and judicial support areas.

To evaluate the building, program and operational needs of the courts at the onset, Stevens & Wilkinson, in association with Justice Planning Associates (JPA), conducted an extensive needs assessment and facility evaluation. JPA focused on judicial planning, case load analysis and projected staff occupancy, while Stevens & Wilkinson provided the architectural and engineering drawings needed to assess the building’s existing conditions and systems.

“With our firm’s extensive experience in courthouse planning, we were able to propose several design solutions during initial considerations for the site,” said Ashby Gressette, principal and president of Stevens & Wilkinson. “Councilmen and civic leaders recognized the value of having the new building at this site, serving as another major contributor to the city’s growing downtown redevelopment.”

The design team conceptualized an L-shaped site plan to include a spacious public entry plaza on the southeastern corner and a landscaped courtyard reminiscent of a historic courthouse square.

“The landscaped entry plaza serves as a fore court to the monumental structure and provides a sequence of spaces from outside to the lobby,” Gressette said. “A broad linear green space, referred to as the ‘courthouse square,’ reflects back to historic courthouse grounds while providing a satisfying connection between current downtown redevelopment and future growth.”

The exterior design of the judicial center is planned as a contemporary interpretation of classicism. The traditional elements of the base, middle and top are to be expressed in cast stone and brick veneer while the columns help modulate the elevations. The materials and finishes were chosen to reflect the dignity of the courts, while remaining durable and cost-effective.

Two-story spans of curtain wall supporting tall windows will provide abundant natural light in the lobby, and the entry design showcases a prominent three-story cylindrical element, acting as a hinge between the two primary sides.

Like several modern courthouses, the Florence County Judicial Center utilizes a “bar” layout where pairs of courtrooms are serviced by a high-security core. There will be four courtrooms per floor and additional aspects of the layout include a public zone and a restricted zone for judges and juries. Building security concepts designed by Stevens & Wilkinson play a major part in the layout of the spaces, including special consideration given to separating public traffic from the restricted security zone and secured judges’ parking area.

In addition to architecture services, Stevens & Wilkinson also provided the civil, structural, mechanical, electrical and audio-visual engineering services for the project. Goforth Brown & Associates, based in Florence, S.C., is the associate architect on the project, and BE&K Building Group is performing construction services. Construction began in December 2016, with move-in taking place on March 2, 2018.

The existing 11-story, 168,000-square-foot Florence County Administrative and Judicial Complex was constructed in 1969 and originally housed the city and county administrative agencies, along with the courts, sheriff’s office, police, and jail facilities. Over time, the jail was relocated and city administrative offices were transferred out of the building. The original building likely will continue to be occupied by county administrative agencies, with some unassigned space available for lease.

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.” The firm’s combined design capabilities lead to projects executed with creative, innovative and holistic design solutions. Learn more: www.stevens-wilkinson.com.