by Mike Sharkey
The City’s Professional Services Evaluation Committee decided Wednesday morning that New York-based Cannon Design was their choice as the architect for the new $211 million Duval County courthouse.
Today, at a 1:30 p.m. press conference, Mayor John Delaney is expected to agree with that assessment and officially recognize the Cannon submission as the design of choice.
Cannon narrowly edged two local and one Miami -based firm for the job of designing the most expensive project of the four vertical projects within the $2.2 billion Better Jacksonville Plan.
PSEC ranked local firms KBJ Architects and Rink Reynolds Diamond Fisher Wilson second and third, respectively, with Miami-based Spillis, Candelas & Partners a not-so-distant fourth. Audrey Moran, Delaney’s chief of staff, said PSEC had a very difficult task in selecting a single design from four premier submissions. In the end, she said, there were a few factors that placed Cannon at the top of the list.
“Jacobs, the program manager for the courthouse, had conducted a report card throughout the process on the different teams,” said Moran. “Cannon was rated the highest in how responsive they were, how prepared they were and the chemistry the team had.”
Moran said two other factors played key roles.
One, the Cannon design seemed to best fit with Jacksonville’s Downtown Master Plan, which was crafted by then Downtown Development Authority executive director Paul Krutko. And, two, of all the designs, the Cannon submission addressed all of downtown.
“His [Krutko’s] view was that the Cannon courthouse fit into the Master Plan,” said Moran, adding that the Master Plan was unanimously approved by City Council and is thus law. “Also, the committee really looked at the fact that the Cannon design had strikingly beautiful entrances on both the eastern and western side. The building doesn’t turn its back on LaVilla.”
Delaney, who was out of town, returned Wednesday and spent time reviewing the models on display in the Renaissance Room in City Hall and going over the literature provided by each firm. Moran said it wasn’t out of the question that Delaney would disagree with the PSEC recommendation, but it was highly improbable.
“He knows who’s on the competition advisory committee and their credentials,” said Moran. “He will take their advice seriously.”