California’s Administrative Office of the Courts last week unveiled the winning architectural firms for 13 new courthouse projects.

Legislation signed last year by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger authorized $5 billion in lease-revenue bonds to support the construction or renovation of 41 courthouses statewide, including the 13 courthouses awarded last week. The lease-revenue bonds are to be repaid through increased fines, penalties and court fees.

The AOC received over 300 qualification submissions from more than 100 firms for just thirteen design commissions. These were evaluated and narrowed to 44 firms, who were interviewed by panels of AOC personnel and representatives of the local courts.

Firms awarded include Take Snyder Kimsey Caldwell (Butte-New North Butte Courthouse), TLCD-Shepley (Lake-New Lakeport Courthouse), CO Architects (Los Angeles-New Southeast LA Courthouse), Mark Cavagnero Associates (Monterey-New South County Courthouse), Frank Webb (Riverside-New Indio Juvenile and Family Courthouse), HOK-Nacht & Lewis (Sacramento-New Sacramento Criminal Courthouse), Zimmer Gunsul Frasca (Santa Clara-New San Jose Family Justice Center), NBBJ (Shasta-New Redding Courthouse), Hornberger + Worstell (Solano-Old Solano Fairfield renovation), Richard Meier & Partners (Sonoma-New Santa Rosa Criminal Courthouse), RossDrulisCusenbery (Sutter-New Yuba City Courthouse) and LPA Sacramento (Tehama-New Red Bluff Courthouse).

Dreyfuss & Blackford Architects, in association with Fentress Architects, was selected for the Yolo County Courthouse. The project will result in a significant new civic building in downtown Woodland. The program calls for 14 courtrooms plus related support facilities, housed in approximately 141,000 sq ft.

“The Dreyfuss/Fentress team set the bar high in their interview, and no other [team] came close,” says Jim Perry, court executive officer for Yolo County. The project has an estimated total cost of $174 million and is tentatively scheduled for completion in 2014.

Six design teams were interviewed for the Yolo County project.

“We are very pleased with this selection of an architecture partnership that will bring both deep California heritage and world-class expertise to our new courthouse,” says Presiding Judge Dave Rosenberg, Superior Court of Yolo County. “This project is not only critically needed by our court, but it will be an important addition to Woodland’s civic architecture and an infrastructure effort that will provide economic benefits to the community for years to come. This expertise will help us ensure that we get it right.”

In addition to the recently completed Bill Santucci Justice Center Courthouse in South Placer County, Dreyfuss & Blackford Architects has nearly 60 years of experience, including court buildings in Butte, Sutter and Napa counties.

Contract negotiations should begin shortly and the design team may start preliminary programming in January. Architectural design of each of the courthouses must wait until site selection and acquisition approval by the State Public Works Board, which can take a year or more. Yolo County is well under way in this regard, having already selected and approved a site in the Woodland downtown area, the architect says.

The existing historic Yolo County Courthouse was built in 1917 and houses four courtrooms in 45,000 sq ft. Additional courts have been acquired or added ad-hoc over the years at five more locations throughout Woodland. The new facility will consolidate these locations into a single new courthouse with a strong civic presence.

In other state courthouse construction news, the AOC awarded a CM@Risk contract to Turner Construction for the new Stockton Courthouse and Kitchell CEM for the new Hollister Courthouse.

In September, the State Public Works Board approved the acquisition of a site in downtown Stockton for the planned new courthouse for the Superior Court of San Joaquin County. The site is Hunter Square Plaza, adjacent to the current courthouse at 222 East Weber Avenue. The site is owned by the city of Stockton, which formally agreed to donate the property for the courthouse to the state AOC.

The new 282,763-sq-ft facility will house 30 courtrooms in what is expected to be a 12-story building. The AOC will proceed with architectural design of the new courthouse on the Hunter Square site. The agency has selected the architectural firm NBBJ for the courthouse. Architectural design is expected to take nearly two years. Construction is expected to begin in mid-to late 2011.

The courthouse project, with a total estimated cost of $259.9 million, is scheduled for completion in fall 2013. Project funding comes from State Court Facilities Construction Fund, from court fees and fines, not the state’s General Fund.