Scope of Work
Berggren Architects completed a Master Plan for the Hall County facilities.
Grand Island, NE
Hall County Courthouse, the oldest building in our study, was built circa 1901.
It was designed by Thomas Rogers Kimball.
This project was completed in 2017.
Previously stationed within a campus of three large buildings in downtown Grand Island, the Hall County board was given the opportunity to acquire the nearby Federal Building, originally home to a federal district court, for a dollar. Berggren Architects was retained to prepare a master plan detailing the best use of both this newly attained space and the county’s existing facilities.
Side entrance to the Hall County Courthouse, one of the more overcrowded buildings in the county’s inventory.
The Federal Building, former site of the federal district court for the District of Nebraska.
Alongside the county’s main “campus” buildings—the Courthouse, the Annex, and the County Administration Building—the county’s inventory also includes seven additional buildings, almost all within a one-block distance.
Several buildings were found to be deficient. The Courthouse, already overcrowded with housing both the district and county courts, was expecting an additional juvenile court. The Health and Human Services building, despite having one of the highest volumes of patron traffic, suffered from uncomfortable air quality, inadequate power supply, and a lack of restrooms.
The Beltzer building, which holds the Child Support and Attorney’s offices, had inadequate security. Even the Federal Building, though large and generally well-maintained, lacked easily accessible parking.
Berggren Architects had four main priorities when deciding which offices should be relocated:
- Offices which lack space or have inadequate space conditions;
- Offices and departments which lack the necessary security, particularly for courts;
- High-traffic offices which lack patron needs, such as accessible parking and restrooms; and
- Offices and departments which require greater proximity due to overlapping responsibilities.
Fortunately, our team found several buildings to be underutilized. The Annex building in particular had over 15,000 square feet of vacant space in the upper floors. Its high-security features would make it suitable for the county court functions. The current occupants, the Veteran’s Services offices, do not require the massive space and may be moved elsewhere. If the county court were to be moved, a security issue would be presented when transporting official documents between the county and district courts. This potential problem may be solved with a pneumatic tube system, as the Annex and Courthouse are directly adjacent.
As part of our study, our team alongside Webb & Company Architects completed condition reports for buildings which were likely at the end of their service lives. In particular, we concluded that the Health and Human Service building was beyond cost-effective repairs. Its office would be better suited at the storage building on 1st Street, which is in a much more convenient location for patrons.
The Administration building, which holds the main administrative offices such as the county clerk and treasurer, seems to be generally both well-maintained and well-utilized. The one exception is the DMV office, which requires a site with greater parking capacity, ideally away from the downtown area, for larger commercial vehicles.
Ultimately, our team determined all buildings outside the “campus” of the Courthouse, Annex, Administration, and Federal buildings to be suited for removal in the long-term.
Though not retained for design services, Berggren Architects provided iterations of a true campus-style site that would unify the three core buildings into a centralized “justice center.” This would be a truly long-term solution to many of the county’s proximity and security issues.
One of Berggren Architects’ proposals for a unified “justice center” campus, sent to supplement our final master plan.
First evolution of a plan utilizing the vacant space of the Hall County Annex building
Second evolution of a plan.
Third evolution of a plan.
In our report, we recommended the Beltzer building be vacated and its current occupants moved into the spacious Federal Building. This would give the county a chance to completely renovate the building for future tenants.
However, the Attorney’s office sought to stay at the Beltzer building for a number of reasons. Berggren Architects would be invited back to complete a more focused study on the Attorney’s office and its space utilization. Much of that study would refer back to this master plan.