BCA Architects was recently hired to redesign the interior of the San Benito County Courthouse. The 20,000 square foot space will be modernized and restructured for the improved use of offices such as the county recorder, the tax collector, the information technology department, the auditor’s office, and the treasurer. Construction will begin in May 2015 and is expected to be completed by December 2015.
BCA is tasked with removing the old courtroom spaces and revitalizing them for office use and public areas. In addition to making the space more open and accessible, BCA will also be creating higher efficiency lighting and energy systems to meet the new Title 24 building requirements. These requirements, which impact anything designed or built after January 1, 2014, will ensure that California has one of the strongest environmental policies in place for both residential and commercial real estate. BCA Architects strives to help their client achieve these standards and plan for a more sustainable future.
“BCA Architects is the perfect firm to modernize our hall of records,” said Vincent Luchessi , an engineer with the San Benito County Public Works Department and lead client representative. “They are taking this 1960’s structure and improving it with current designs that will give better access to the public and open up the office space for collaboration and interaction between departments.”
Another building concern that many local governments are facing is the need for a more accessible voter space. In the old San Benito County Courthouse, voters had to file into the actual courtroom, weaving their way through the jury box and the stage-style courtroom seating. Voting is extremely important to the individuals in San Benito, and they actively devote time to encouraging young Americans to become more involved in the election process and offering them resources for new voters. BCA will design a space that will allow voters to move through the process more swiftly, and will offer more flexibility for handicapped individuals. The county is anticipating using more modern voting equipment as well as dedicating space that is more accessible to the public for election cycles.
“It was very important for us to engage the community when taking on this project,” said Brian Whitmore, Vice President of Design for BCA Architects. “Nobody knows better the needs of a particular environment than that community. By engaging the stakeholders in conceptualization, a design team can learn a tremendous amount about what that community needs for their government structures.”
Safety and security is another issue that many state and federal governments are addressing and was largely considered during the design phase of the new county building. In the building’s current central entrance or courtyard, the administrative office is not able to control who is entering the building. In the new office space, there will be one main entrance for the public and separate employee access points to help control who is entering the building and keep the entire community safe.