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US Courthouse

Jacksonville, FL

The 15-story, 420,000-square-foot United States Courthouse in Jacksonville, FL, is a substantial public structure that occupies an entire city block in the heart of the downtown government center. The $86-million courthouse was completed in October, 2002. The architectural precast concrete wall panels are designed to meet blast-resistant criteria mandated by the government.

The US Courts have a long and distinguished history as a symbol of government. Therefore, the dignity and permanence of the courts must be reflected in the building's design. The use of strong, solid materials is one way to signify these qualities in the exterior composition of the building. As a cost-effective alternative to natural stone, architectural precast concrete is a system that is easily crafted to provide a natural look that reinforces the permanence and stability of a courthouse. Color, texture and surface patterns can be designed in numerous ways to enhance the building appearance.

The structure is distinctive because the block immediately west of the new courthouse site houses the 1930s federal courthouse that is clad with Indiana Limestone. This beautifully crafted building is representative of many of the 1930s federal courthouses that populate numerous American cities. Quite a number of design cues were taken from this structure. Although the new courthouse is more contemporary in style, a solid, precast concrete base was used to firmly anchor the building to the ground. Two precast concrete entry towers, reminiscent of the old courthouse, welcome visitors into the expansive atrium.

Design challenge

  • On a tight, downtown urban site such as this one, staging and clearance for the erection of precast concrete wall panels always presents a challenge. The Construction Manager worked closely with the city to obtain street and lane closures to aid in providing the needed clearance for crane movement. In addition, twin tower cranes were used on site for the majority of the precast concree erection. Close coordination between steel embeds in the concrete structure to support the precast concrete panels was also critical.
  • The building was the second U.S. Courthouse to be designed with the GSA's Blast and Progressive Collapse design requirements following the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Special considerations were required for the exterior precast and a blast consultant engineer had to approve the final connection design. 

Precast system details

  • 628 9" thick architectural precast concrete panels
  • 106 7" thick architectural precast concrete panels
  • Indian limestone aggregates were used in the mix design to match the neigboring federal courthouse's hand-set Indian limestone facade. 
  • The base of the building features an exposed aggregate finish simulating Cambria Granite
  • The heaviest panel weighed approximately 20,000 pounds.

Precast Concrete Advantages

  • The availability of surface treatment and planar forms for precast concrete gives the designer great flexibility in creating a courthouse facility that represents the dignity of the US Courts. Precast concrete is also a very durable exterior material that lends itself well to meeting structural and blast-resistant criteria.
  • In the design of a federal courthouse, it is very important to reflect the importance of the federal court system. Precast concrete also aids in meeting the blast-resistant criteria mandated by the government for these facilities.




General Information

Jacksonville, FL
HLM Design and KBJ Architects
Skanska USA

Precast Systems

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Project Aesthetics

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More Information

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