New Federal Courthouse groundbreaking honors Sen. Richard Shelby

Ground was broken Monday on a new Federal Courthouse in Huntsville. (City of Huntsville)

Ground was broken today in Huntsville for a new Federal Courthouse, and in the process, city leaders and Huntsville residents were able to honor the service of Sen. Richard Shelby, who is retiring after four decades in Congress.

The courthouse is set for completion by August of 2024. Here are some more details on Monday’s happenings:

New Federal Courthouse

The new federal courthouse in Huntsville will include five courtrooms and six judges’ chambers. (Fentress Architects)

The new 123,000-square-foot courthouse will be complete and open 30 months after construction starts, according to the plan. It will be located on a 5-acre site at the corner of Lowe Avenue and Gallatin Street and built by Brasfield & Gorrie, LLC.

The three-story courthouse will include five courtrooms and six judges’ chambers, as well as workspace for the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the U.S Probation and Pretrial Services. 

Here are few more details on the new courthouse:

  • Total authorized funding: $110 million for site acquisition, design and construction services.
  • Project delivery method: Design-Build Bridging
  • Lead design architect: Steve White, Fentress Architects
  • Key milestones (all dates are subject to change):
    • November 2019 – Award of the A/E Bridging Architect
    • October 2020 – Award of the CMa & Commissioning Contract
    • March 2021 – Bridging Design phase complete
    • August 2021 – Award of the Design/ Build Contract
    • February 2022 – Art-in-Architecture Award
    • April 2022 – Construction begins
    • October 2022 – Design complete (100% construction documents)
    • August 2024 – Planned substantial completion
  • Awarded contracts:
    • O’Brien & Gere (Phase I Site Assessment and Limited EA) — Awarded Feb. 2019
    • CEMS Engineering (Program of Requirements and BTU Survey) – Awarded April 2019
    • Payne Design Group Architects LLC – Bridging Architect – Awarded November 2019
    • APSI Construction Management – CMa/ Commissioning – Awarded October 2020
    • Brasfield & Gorrie LLC (Design-Build Bridging) — Awarded Aug. 2021

The new courthouse’s design is neoclassical in style, with a large pedimented entry portico flanked by gently arcing symmetrical wings.

The design incorporates modern security, sustainability and technological features necessary for a 21st-century federal courthouse, while integrating classical organizational, proportional and design elements.

The design also features a large formal public lawn with symmetrical plantings that will help both to create a sense of space and to focus the eye towards nearby panoramic views.

Honoring Sen. Shelby

Sen. Richard Shelby was honored at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new federal courthouse in Huntsville Monday. (City of Huntsville)

In addition to celebrating the groundbreaking for construction on the new courthouse, city leaders and residents alike paid tribute to retiring U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), which was fitting because Shelby put $110 million for the courthouse in a federal spending bill in 2019.

“The weight of what we owe to Senator Shelby can never be fully calculated. His tireless advocacy for the Arsenal and his support of North Alabama have reshaped Huntsville.”

Mayor Tommy Battle

A ceremony at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center Monday morning in Shelby’s honor preceded the groundbreaking ceremony for the courthouse downtown.

First elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986 as a Democrat who later switched to the Republican Party in 1994, he chaired the Senate Appropriations Committee from 2018 to 2021. He previously chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Senate Banking Committee, and the Senate Rules Committee.

He is the longest-serving U.S. senator from Alabama, surpassing John Sparkman’s record in March 2019.

“I give a lot of thanks for letting me be one of your two U.S. senators for so long. We have a few months left and I hope we have a good finish on the way out.”

Sen. Richard Shelby

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Michael Seale
Michael Seale
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