Alachua County Courthouse220 South Main Street
Gainesville, FL 32601
Design Achievement - The new criminal courthouse for Alachua County embodies the dignity and honor inherent to the American courthouse, but also makes a notable and sympathetic civic addition to the urban fabric of downtown Gainesville. DLR Group's design focuses on creatingn timeless exterior architecture that integrates the surrounding context, while still distinguishing the courthouse from the aesthetic of the neighboring commercial buildings. To mitigate the scale of the courthouse, the mass is broken down into three volumes to reflect the functions of the building. It allows it to step down as it approaches the street's edge, aligning itself with the surrounding building heights. The largest component is the four-story courts tower housing the courtrooms and their direct support operations. A separate, low wing provides the necessary space for judicial chambers with proximity to the courtroom sets. The third element is the two-story entrance pavilion, which clearly defines the public point of entry and offers ample queuing space before proceeding through security screening. The resulting asymmetrical ‘Z' shaped plan, linking the tower to low wing and entry pavilion, creates a powerful urban space and entry forecourt. The plaza not only allows the tower to reinforce the urban edge, but also establishes a clear entry procession.
Scope Summary - The scope of work for the new 121,800 SF courthouse included all the components for a criminal courthouse, including 11 courtrooms, a small video arraignment courtroom, 12 judges' chambers, jury assembly room, grand jury room, sally port, and central holding. The high volume courts are located on the first floor on each side of a central holding area, allowing large volume movement of individuals in-custody to these courtrooms for case management and arraignment cases. The court clerk's office, which receives substantially less visitor traffic, is on the fourth floor. In an attempt to solve the county's operational issues of having two courts buildings, the new criminal courts facility brings the Clerk of the Court criminal operations, a portion of the court-reporting department, and staff from court administration. Separate entrances, screening areas, and elevators for visitors and staff are part of the overall building security enhancements. DLR Group provided planning and architecture services.