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Architect discusses Pa. courthouse work

August 06, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- The Franklin County (Pa.) Commissioners hosted a getting-to-know-you session Thursday with their newly chosen architectural firm for the courthouse replacement project.

The commissioners have selected Chambersburg-based Noelker & Hull Associates as the architect for a new judicial center, but they haven't yet negotiated a contract with the firm. County Administrator John Hart said a scope of work will be negotiated, then a contract.

The county's facilities workgroup committee highly recommended Noelker & Hull Associates and didn't put forth any other candidates that responded to bids. The commissioners met with firm representatives Tuesday and Thursday.

On Thursday afternoon, the commissioners asked questions about the design process, communication, cost containment, and details like basements, energy efficiency, technology and handicapped-accessibility. Firm President Mike Hull brought a team of 11 people, along with representatives of Charleston, W.Va.-based Silling Associates, which will serve as courthouse design experts.

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Noelker & Hull designed renovations to the Capitol Theatre in Chambersburg, Frederick (Md.) Memorial Hospital and Homewood at Williamsport. Silling Associates is working on the new courthouse in Morgan County, W.Va.

Gannett Fleming of Chambersburg will be doing site and civil engineering.

"Because we're close and local, we think this is an extraordinary time to do a project. We can work quickly," Hull said, saying the local economy and construction field will benefit.

"You'll see extraordinary value for your money," he said.

Hull and Thomas Potts, from Silling Associates, said input from the public and courthouse employees will be a key component of the process. Hull said they "want to do what is absolutely right for the community."

"We're going to listen very carefully to what everyone has to say to us, (including) obviously (the commissioners), but also the judges and administrators, the people who use the building every day," Hull said.

Potts described learning more about leading proposals for sites. The commissioners have talked about building at the current Jennings car dealership on North Second Street or somewhere near Memorial Square, likely in the first block of North Main Street.

"One site may be less costly than another, one site may have less room and work less functionally. There may be advantages and disadvantages to each site that must be thought through in a scientific way," Hull said.

The "character" of the desired building and neighborhood must be considered, Potts said.

The goals, including those from citizens, must be agreed upon early, Hull said.

"If you can establish that first, before you draw, then your drawing tends to be much more intelligent," he said.

For completion by June 2013, Potts said they'd need to request construction bids by Aug. 1, 2011. Hull said the architects could do the design by August 2011 if the commissioners select a site by the end of this year.

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