6 architectural firms on Bibb courthouse shortlist

A list of 23 architectural firms competing to work on the Bibb County Courthouse project was whittled down to six Wednesday.

The selection committee charged with the task had little discussion before voting to recommend the firms to the Bibb Commission for future interviews.

The chosen firm is expected to evaluate the existing courthouse on Mulberry Street, review site locations and, if necessary, design and build a new courthouse. The commission recently purchased land near the county jail with the intention that it be used to house a new justice center.

The firms, in no particular order, are:

Ÿ Atlanta-based Cooper Carry with Macon-based Brittain, Thompson Bray, Brown;

Ÿ Atlanta-based Heery International with Macon-based Dunwody/Beeland Architects;

Ÿ Atlanta-based Turner Associates Architects and Planners Inc. with Francis Cauffman Architects, which has its primary offices in New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore;

Ÿ St. Louis-based HOK, which has an Atlanta office, with Macon-based Azar Walsh Architects;

Ÿ Denver-based Fentress Architects; and

Ÿ Alpharetta-based Pieper O’Brien Herr Architects.

Commissioner Elmo Richardson, who oversees the committee, recused himself from voting because, he said, his brother works for Dunwody/Beeland.

To choose the firms, each of the 12 selection committee members scored and ranked their top six firms. Those numbers were calculated to produce a final six, which were up for discussion Wednesday. The committee is composed of various judicial and community members.

References will be checked for all the firms on the shortlist, Richardson said. Interviews, which will be conducted by the commission, probably won’t occur until the first week in June, he said, because commissioners will be in annual budget hearings later this month.

Richardson previously has said he hopes the commission will have a final selection by mid-June. Then, the scope of work would be defined and a contract negotiated.

The current courthouse on Mulberry Street has been in disrepair for years, and earlier studies indicate the courts may have outgrown their space.

The county is under a court order to provide appropriate facilities by July 1, 2012.

A new courthouse could cost around $80 million, according to a previous estimate, which is several years old. Commissioners hope to pay for any renovations or construction with a new special purpose local option sales tax.

Committee member David Thompson, who owns Piedmont Construction Group, said the most important factor he looked at during the selection process was the education of the people the firm would put on the job.

Tommy Barnes, another committee member, said he looked at whether the firms performed judicial work in the past, how seriously they answered the questions and how they integrated technology into their designs.

Overall, committee members said, they had many quality firms from which to choose.

“Because of the economy right now, the strength of the candidates pool was really strong,” Thompson said.

To contact writer Jennifer Burk, call 744-4345.