By Nick Gilbert
Montana, Billings’ new federal courthouse, has been completed in record time. Setting a new benchmark for design and construction delivery, the courtroom became operational in just 27 months of reconstruction in the form of design and construction.
Mortenson Construction and NBBJ were the contractors, and the design and construction work from their respective project teams has set a new standard in delivery of design and construction.
The construction for the 128,742-square foot courtroom project depicts lean design-build process on a site of 1.8 ac in central Billings. The project, which began in October 2010, has delivered three courtrooms, prisoner areas, four judge's chambers, and office and public spaces. The building also includes the Clerk of Court, U.S. Marshals Service, Probation Office, U.S. Attorney's Office, and General Services Administration. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 provided funds of $79 million for the construction.
The design of the building makes it at least 30% more energy efficient compared to industry standards, and it has now achieved more than 40% energy cost savings. The design is based on four key concepts: federal expression, visible justice, regionalism, and high performance. The top of the building house the courtrooms, "visible justice," and the civic significance. Large windows offer natural light and an expansive view of downtown Billings and the rooftop patio of the fourth floor is landscaped with trees and shrubs. Typical American Indian themes are evident throughout.
Both Mortenson and NBBJ’s design and construction team have worked together, scaling new heights, to achieve this benchmark. They have explored various practices and technologies, aiming towards delivering efficiency through BIM (Building Information Modeling) deployment. Maximizing user understanding of the quality, safety and design with this technology helped them save on time as well as money. The courthouse is slated for a LEED-Silver certification.