By Lisa Kopochinski
WAUKESHA COUNTY, Wis.—With the goal of addressing aging city and county government facilities, two long-planned projects in Waukesha County are moving forward.
In late March, the demolition of Waukesha County’s 60-year-old intake court building, located at 515 W. Moreland Blvd., began. Construction will soon begin on a new 62,000-square-foot, four-story addition. Gilbane Building Co. is the general contractor.
Designed by Milwaukee-based Zimmerman Architectural Studios, this project is the first in a two-phase planned upgrade to the Waukesha County Courthouse campus that includes a $35 million building addition and a $58 million renovation of the existing courthouse.
Planning on this project began in 2012 when county board members and department heads identified the need to address capacity constraints and the outdated layout of the county courthouse. When the original 1959 building was completed, there were only three judges sitting on the bench serving the county with a population of 150,000. Today, the population has swelled significantly to 400,000 and there are 12 sitting judges.
“The biggest thing is capacity,” says Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow.
“When you look at our population, we know it’s going to grow. We needed to make sure we had a facility that could handle the needs of the community and ensure the safety of those individuals when they come in to the courthouse.”
The project involves demolishing a 52,000-square-foot structure, which includes an intake courtroom and unused jail space.
The addition with eight new courtrooms will be designed with “three-way separation,” among inmates, court staff and visitors. Construction on the addition is expected to be completed in 2021.
“It will meet all of today’s standards for security and for safety for personnel and public coming through,” adds Farrow.
Renovations on the existing courthouse are expected to begin in late 2022 and will involve updating aging mechanical systems, thereby creating a more efficient layout and increasing public accessibility. Completion is slated for 2023 or 2024.