Garmann Miller designed renovations to the 1888 historic courthouse and the adjacent safety building. Existing conditions were unsafe for the public, including poor lighting and trip hazards created by 2” steps, missing paver bricks, broken pavements and sunken areas in the plaza over abandoned tunnels.
The GM team made various improvements that included waterproofing the pedestrian tunnel between the two buildings, waterproofing the courthouse below grade, abandoning many of the original brick and dirt tunnels around the courthouse, and shoring up a tunnel to be used for infrastructure.
Furthermore, to honor the past and preserve the history of the courthouse, the team made numerous design decisions to revitalize its plaza. The front of the courthouse became the new focal point instead of the modern frontage of the neighboring building. The new site lights were selected to mimic gas lanterns, while the post top light fixtures on the grand courthouse stairs were restored to original condition. The stone pavers from the existing sidewalk in the floor of the water feature was converted to stone accent trim pieces around the courthouse. The brick paving pattern is based on the floor tile pattern inside the courthouse. A new historic fence style was chosen for the front of plaza. The original stones from the wall surrounding the courthouse were salvaged and reused as bench seating. The new water feature contains stone from the original county jail.
The project also focused on major upgrades to enhance the experience of the community by improving pedestrian access, making the site ADA accessible, increasing the exterior lighting for security and safety, and allowing the public use of the space for hosting local events. Also, the design team honored local police by enhancing the memorial with a prominent location and blue light.
A new color changing lighting system was installed to illuminate the courthouse, and wayfinding was improved with intuitive pavement layout and signage leading to the correct entries. The project ended up exceeding the commissioners’ goals to honor the courthouse architecture, improve pedestrian access, increase safety and security, and create a space the public will utilize.