The McKinley County Justice Complex project included both new construction and renovation of the existing municipal court building. The facility features advanced security checkpoints, jury courtrooms, secure judge's chambers and a high-security prisoner transport tunnel.

photos by Kirk Gittings
Best Government/Public Buildings Project: McKinley County Justice Complex
photos by Kirk Gittings
Best Government/Public Buildings Project: McKinley County Justice Complex

Phase 1 included the construction of a 22,500-sq-ft, three-story magistrate court, secured staff parking, public parking, extensive sitework, relocation of three-phase power lines and partial removal of an existing hill.

"All utilities needed to be upsized, therefore the biggest challenge was facilitating a time that was convenient for all parties to make the final switchover and avoid an extended service outage," says Matthew Mulligan, COO of HB Construction.

During the second phase, contractors converted the existing 9,554-sq-ft, single-story court building into offices for the public defender.

"During the second phase, we had to maintain a safety corridor through our project to allow for transportation of inmates from the detention facility to the new courthouse," Mulligan says. "We had to work around their schedule, and if that entailed nights or weekends, then that's what we did."

When contractors began removing part of an adjacent hill to make way for staff parking, crews discovered an old coal mine shaft and vein that was dangerously close to the surface. After inspection, a geotechnical engineer recommended a halt to excavation.

"The hill was tough," Mulligan says. "This impacted an already tight schedule with regards to sitework. However, we were able to re-engineer some utilities to come from the opposite side of the site to allow for work to continue."

This redesign altered the size and configuration of the secured staff parking lot but gave greater flexibility to the overall site plan while not affecting the project schedule. Weather was also a major challenge as some temperature-sensitive work, such as concrete and steel, was set to be performed when outside temperatures were dipping to below freezing. To adjust to the extreme cold, contractors tented in the structure to regulate the temperature and keep the work moving.

McKinley County Justice Complex

Gallup, N.M.

Key Players

General Contractor HB Construction, Albuquerque

Owner/Developer McKinley County, Gallup

Architect of Record Lam Corp., Gallup

Courthouse Design Architect RMKM Architecture PC, Albuquerque

Structural Engineer JJK Group Inc., Albuquerque

Civil Engineer Larry Read & Associates, Albuquerque

MEP Engineer Bridgers & Paxton Consulting Engineering, Albuquerque

Subcontractors Wilson Electric Services Inc., Albuquerque; Structural Services, Albuquerque; Donner Plumbing and Heating, Albuquerque; Contreras Construction Corp., Tijeras, N.M.