In 1990, the ADA County Commisioners purchased 14,5 acres of land on 3rd and Front St. In 1995 they solicited proposals from development groups, awarding the project to a team headed by Civic Partners of Costa Mesa, California in 1996. Ground was officially broken on January 20th, 2000, and the new 350,000-square-foot Ada County Courthouse was completed in February of 2002.
This new courthouse was designed in a state-of-the-art fashion. According to Dave Logan, the building was designed to give a feel of fairness and justice. This can easily be seen by the architecture of the front of the building; the large curving walls feel very inviting and direct your attention to the classic courthouse feel of the looming, majestic entrance.
Many aspects of design were considered in the planning of the new courthouse. However, functionality was also a key concern in the construction. Lombard-Conrad Architects and Washington Group achieved these two main themes by incorporating technology and an Art Deco style, at a price of 47 million dollars.
Planning for the new building began in the mid-1990s, and several team members were assembled to ensure that the building would meet not only their goals, but future goals for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, as well as Rebuild America guidelines.
The New Ada County Courthouse not only replaced the antiquated old courthouse, but also became the new home of other county departments which were previously housed in separate buildings. The five story building contains courtrooms, assembly and hearing rooms, secure holding areas (which include secluded entrances for criminals where they don’t have any contact with the public or workers in the main part of the building), administrative offices, retail stores, and an underground parking garage.
Although the building is beautiful, its features are far more astonishing than its appearance. The county paid to have hot geothermal water piped over from Warm Springs. This geothermal water is used to heat the building, greatly reducing the pollution caused by other forms of heating. By using this environmentally friendly geothermal water, the county saves 70% compared to the natural gas alternative, which is up to $134,000. However, in the case of an emergency regarding the geothermal water, the building is equipped with two natural gas boilers. The new courthouse uses 22% less electricity per square foot than the three buildings it replaced and 40% less electricity per square foot than comparable buildings in the Boise area. Energy is also being saved in lighting. The courthouse is equipped with energy-efficient light bulbs that are rarely needed, as over 95% of workspaces have direct or indirect daylight. The courthouse is both energy efficient and cost efficient.
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