Several design changes for the new Delaware County courthouse were approved by the city of Delaware’s Historic Preservation Commission this week.
The changes were necessary because the $32 million construction project had ballooned to $39 million, and “approximately $5 million in design changes to both the interior and exterior are needed as a result,” stated a memo to the commission from the city’s planning department.
The changes in design and materials were sufficient enough to have the county and Silling Architects appear again before the Historic Preservation Commission, which had approved the previous design after several meetings in 2015.
Silling President Tom Potts said the changes included: eliminating a clock from a tower; using a buff-colored exterior insulation and finish system, instead of stone panels; reducing the length of an overhang and soffit; scaling back the entry canopy; using concrete, instead of brick, in the lower level of the parking garage; and eliminating some of the windows.
“Staff concurs that the design changes are, taken in total, a better overall fit with the area and more traditional in appearance and compatibility with the adjacent Hayes Building,” the staff memo said.
Commission members agreed with that assessment, and understood the need to cut costs. However, they wanted to keep the clerestory windows on the side of the judicial center that faces Sandusky Street. They said that not having those windows would add to the mass of the building, and this small change was important to get the look right. The members asked if eliminating windows in stairwells would make up for the cost of reinstating the clerestory windows.
“I have no problem adding that (the windows) to get this group’s blessing,” Potts told the commission. He also said keeping the stairwell windows was important to give employees contact with the outside.
The commission then voted to approve the design changes, but restoring the window grouping on the side of the building facing Sandusky Street. City Planning Director David Efland said if any other significant exterior design changes were requested, they would again go before the commission.
Jon Melvin, county manager of facilities, said returning the windows to the design wouldn’t add that much to the cost. He said the revisions should be completed in mid-March.
County commissioners approved two items related to the new courthouse at its meeting Thursday. One was a change order to the contract with Lend Lease Construction Inc. to keep work progressing by drilling caissons; and the other was an agreement with the city for maintaining an alley.
Melvin said the county courthouse is expected to open in June 2017.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.