Will County courthouse designers seek feedback from other courts

Design firm has spoken with counties in Michigan, Arizona

JOLIET – The design of the Will County Judicial Complex is moving along, as a design team is expected to complete 50 percent of the design-development phase in the coming days.

Design firm Wight & Co. gave the Will County Board’s Capital Improvements Committee an update on the $195 million project on Tuesday.

Wight & Co. has hosted several county officials and staff at a mock-up courtroom assembled in Orland Park in an effort to fine-tune the courtroom design. Capital Improvements Committee leaders want to make sure as many county officials are able to make it as possible.

“The reason we do this is to make sure everyone is comfortable with [the courtroom] before we duplicate [the design] 28 times,” project manager Jason Dwyer said to the committee.

Dwyer said that so far, the mock-up has been well-received by judges, attorneys and others. The main component they’re trying to determine now is where to position the court reporter’s work area.

Chief Judge Richard Schoenstedt has a key to the mock-up, so judges can view it based on their schedules, Dwyer said.

Road trip

Project leaders, led by Wight & Co., planned to visit a courthouse in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Wednesday to observe how that building operates. Dwyer said the courthouse is similar to the one proposed for Will County. The Michigan courthouse is a high-rise building, and will help stakeholders assess operational flow in planning for the Will County courthouse.

The new Will County courthouse will be designed to meet the needs of its current population, and then some. The existing courthouse was built nearly 50 years ago and designed to meet the needs of 250,000 people in the county. Will County now has a population of at least 680,000 and is expected to surpass 1 million by 2040.

Dwyer said they’ve also received feedback from the judicial system of Maricopa County, Arizona. The fourth-largest county in the U.S., Maricopa County moves an “incredible number” of people through their court system, he said. To do that, Maricopa County uses software developed by one of its own correctional officers to help manage operational flow within the courts.

Dwyer said the firm is reaching out to these entities to help enhance the design of the building and streamline operations.

The committee also asked Wight & Co. to form a timeline of crucial decision deadlines. Much of these decisions would involve materials used to make the building, which can vary greatly in cost and quality.

In other news, Will County Public Safety Complex project leaders updated the committee and said the project is about six percent complete and on track to finish in late 2017.