Fentress served as the court consultant on a team led by White & Borgognoni Architects (WBA). WBA was hired by the County Board of Franklin County (IL) to provide design services for a new 46,000 GSF courthouse for the Franklin County Circuit Court. The new courthouse would replace the existing historic courthouse that has been located on the town square in Benton, IL since 1875. The existing courthouse has inadequate security throughout, including a lack of separate circulation paths for prisoners, judges, staff, and the public, and has significantly undersized courtrooms and office spaces.
As part of the WBA team, Fentress was responsible for developing an operations analysis, Program of Requirements (POR), and schematic design. Fentress facilitated stakeholder interviews to gather data and inform analysis of demographic, economic, caseload, and staffing trends. The trend analysis was used to develop forecasts of future judges and staff. The forecasted staffing levels, combined with operational needs and courthouse planning best practices, were used to develop the POR - a detailed listing of the spaces and associated square footage required in the new Franklin County Courthouse.
Based on the POR, Fentress developed schematic floor plans, while WBA focused on the exterior design and site considerations. Competing needs, including significant budget constraints, the courthouse's prominent location on a busy town square, and the safety of visitors and staff, presented unique challenges for the WBA/Fentress team. Maintaining a strong civic presence on the square was critical. The vehicle traffic flow around the square influenced decisions concerning the locations of the public and judges entrances, as well as the prisoner sallyport. The WBA/Fentress team successfully met these challenges and designed a courthouse that will substantially improve access to justice for Franklin County's residents. The new courthouse contains modern security provisions, including proper entry screening and separate circulation paths for judges, staff, the public, and prisoner movement. The courtrooms and office areas are sized and configured to support the current and projected future needs of the Franklin County Circuit Court, providing a true long-term solution.