Highlands County Courthouse590 S. Commerce Ave.
Sebring, FL 33870
Design Achievement - Located in historic downtown Sebring, Florida, the Highlands County Courthouse typifies the American courthouse on the green, reinforcing an important icon of our democratic system of government. This fine example of neo-classical revival architecture, built in 1923, served the County well but by the turn of the century was ready for expansion and renovation. DLR Group's design gives careful attention to a four-story addition to ensure that the massing and exterior articulation are compatible with the existing structure, while providing the addition with its own identity. Although the addition reciprocates the base/middle/top organization of the original building, it also expresses the functional part of its program by allowing the courtrooms, jury deliberation rooms, mechanical spaces, and the stair towers to be articulated clearly in plan. The connection between the old and new was intentionally minimized using a glass curtain wall gasket where a simple bridge slips through the columns of the former rear portico. The design also enablesappropriately separate circulation paths for security. The main entrance of the courthouse remains through to the historic courthouse, where the public enters the building. In-custody defendants enter through the rear for easy access from the jail and staff or judges come through the stairwell or elevator.
Scope Summary – The scope comprised renovation and restoration work on the existing courthouse, and a 35,000 SF addition. Containing four courtrooms with their attendant holding cells and jury deliberation rooms, the addition also houses jury assembly at the lowest level and six judges' chambers on the uppermost floor. The new addition contains elevators and exit stairs to serve both itself and the existing building. Exterior materials included colored masonry, limestone, and brushed metal trim. Security measures were enhanced with technology upgrades. In addition to the courthouse project, DLR Group was lead planner in developing a master plan to accommodate the growing inmate population for the County Jail. This Master Plan allows for an increase in the rated bed capacity to 500 with 200 new beds, while impacting the staffing pattern by less than 14 percent of their present requirements, increasing the efficiency by 28 percent. DLR Group provided master planning, architecture, and interiors services.