Fentress was hired by Frazier Associates, a local Staunton, VA architectural firm, to provide a needs assessment and space program for the historic Augusta County Circuit Courthouse located in the center of downtown Staunton. These studies were to serve as the basis for the architectural firm to develop renovation plans to upgrade the functionality of the courthouse and enhance its ability to meet future space requirements. Augusta County, the City of Staunton, and the Circuit Courthouse each have a notable past. Augusta County was created from Orange County in 1738 and the City of Staunton in 1747. The first August County Courthouse was built in 1745 on the same site as the current courthouse. The county’s records have been kept continuously at the original courthouse and its successive four incarnations since 1745. The present courthouse was constructed in 1900 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The objective of the needs assessment was to determine the capacity and general condition of the existing facility, and to forecast future trends that could place additional demands on the facility. An assessment of the existing facility was conducted using performance measures that covered the areas of court functionality, security, space standards, building condition, and technology. The results of the needs assessment provided the basis for the space program. The space program was a detailed housing plan itemizing the spaces needed for each courthouse tenant and function. The space program provided the projected space needs associated with potential renovation projects.
Fentress developed several conceptual layout plans for renovating the existing courthouse. Each offered different degrees of modification to the existing structure. The conceptual layout plans included: interior renovation of the courthouse, interior renovation with some exterior modifications for security, and renovation with an atrium connection to an adjacent facility. In addition, Fentress considered the potential of a combined new judicial complex to house the Augusta County circuit court, district court, juvenile and domestic relations court, and other court and related components. Each layout option was scored using performance measures that examine the opportunities and constraints of each approach. At present, the design of an annex to the existing courthouse is underway.