King County Children and Family Justice Center Phase 1A
Best Project

Owner: King County
Lead Design Firm: HOK (Courts); Integrus (Detention)
General Contractor: Howard S. Wright, a Balfour Beatty Co.
Structural Engineer: KPFF (Courts); Integrus (Detention)
Civil Engineer: ABHL Inc.
MEP Engineer: Holaday-Parks Inc.
Subcontractors: Sasco; GeoEngineers

The $186-million King County Children and Family Justice Center modernized youth and family court services by creating a 137,000-sq-ft courthouse with 10 courtrooms, a 92,000-sq-ft, 112-bed juvenile detention center, a 10,200-sq-ft youth program space and more than 1.5 acres of open areas, including pedestrian and cycling pathways and a public plaza.

The goal was to bring families together in a safe space, allowing judicial, legal and social services to meet the needs of at-risk families and children in one location. But this fresh approach came with both political and construction challenges, including permitting delays. An unusual level of scrutiny by the Seattle City Council put political pressure on the project and created reduced permit times. The master-use permit was delayed 10 months beyond the normal time frame, and contractor Howard S. Wright says the design-build delivery was crucial in helping the project navigate the delays and opposition.

The design-build team reduced a 301-day permitting delay down to 213 days in the operational schedule thanks to close collaboration with subcontractors. The delays also required the team to further trim the budget. Cost increases on the project came from either owner-directed enhancement, unforeseen poor soil conditions or security that was added to protect the site from protesters.

The center includes a complex security control system that allows for management transfers and takeovers of areas within the facility.

Back to ENR Northwest's 2020 Regional Best Projects