Fentress has worked on over 1,000 court facilities nationwide, including state, local, and federal courts. We have worked directly for the courts to assess courthouse needs, and with architectural firms to combine their design experience with our courthouse expertise and best practices.
Our comprehensive planning process blends architecture and analysis to evaluate existing courthouses and to plan for future space needs. We establish a baseline of current operations, identify deficiencies in existing space, and recommend projects to improve courthouse space. We develop metrics that measure how well the courthouse functions in terms of security, functionality, condition, adherence to design standards, and the use of court technology. The strategies we develop incorporate an analysis of past, current, and projected workload trends and judge/personnel staffing levels.
We facilitate sessions with judges, court staff, and courthouse tenants to glean key assumptions on current and future personnel and operational needs. By doing so, we are able to combine our knowledge of courthouse planning best practices with the knowledge and experience of court personnel. This combination results in a customized program of requirements that details each court’s space needs. We will also establish tenant adjacencies and courthouse blocking diagrams to meet the specific operational needs of the court.
We help courts analyze alternatives for meeting current and future space needs. In doing so, we use cost-benefit analysis as a decision-support tool to evaluate competing alternatives and to identify the best approach to improve operations, security, and space conditions. Our analytics can be applied to both a single court location and a large portfolio of courthouses.
We maintain a library of courthouse design standards encompassing all levels of government and court jurisdictions. These standards are tailored to each court project. Our architects combine the design standards with their extensive knowledge of best practices to assist courts in developing design guidelines. We have also automated these design standards to create customized online courthouse calculators. Such calculators add consistency when planning across a courthouse portfolio and can significantly accelerate the planning and programming process.
We help courts systematically evaluate competing designs for a new project. We have developed an integrated design evaluation tool that can be applied from schematic design through post-occupancy. The tool evaluates each potential design across a range of factors, including building operations, image and aesthetics, space functionality, security, space standards, court technology, and adherence to the program of requirements. The results help to ensure that the design and construction process will deliver a courthouse that meets the specific needs and goals of the project.
We have conducted numerous ad hoc studies for courts to address specific issues and decision points. A sample of topics includes justice system workflow modeling, law enforcement and prosecutorial policy impact studies, workload measurement, courtroom sharing policies, courtroom layout