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Jax Daily Record Friday, Jun. 28, 200212:00 PM EST

Courthouse decision drawing a positive reaction


Mayor John Delaney made it official Thursday, selecting New York-based Cannon Designs as the architect for the new $211 million Duval County courthouse. Daily Record staffers Monica Chamness, Fred Seely and Mike Sharkey polled members of the community for their reaction:

“I was very impressed with the process. I was on the original committee and I had two people sitting in at every meeting. This is the design we liked — in fact, we rated them the same way that the committee did.”

— State Attorney Harry Shorstein.

“It’s exactly what we need downtown.”

— JEDC executive director

Kirk Wendland.

“It fits well with the Downtown Master Plan. I like the east-west vistas which open it up to LaVilla as well as the present downtown.”

— Downtown Development Authority senior director Al Battle


— County Court Judge

Gary Flower

“It fits in well with downtown.”

— Mayoral aide Mark Middlebrook

“We’re not in the building [the Public Defender’s Office will be in what’s now the Federal courthouse] but it looks wonderful. We want to make sure that our space is compatible with the space in the new courthouse, and we think we’ll all be happy. I was impressed with the process and the way it went. For instance, I don’t think Cannon would have won if they hadn’t listened. Early in the process, it started, ‘No Taj Mahal,’ and their original design looked like that. The next day, they changed it.”

— Bill White,

Public Defender’s Office

“It’s a very nice, traditional design that will go along with many of the buildings downtown, including the new main library.”

— Ken Sivulich,

director of libraries

“I think it exemplifies what were trying to accomplish, which is show the traditional values in the city; sort of the ‘courthouse-on-the-square.’ Everybody knows where it is and what it is. The design reflects the dignity we were seeking.”

— Circuit Court Judge

Mallory Cooper

“I think the design is going to be wonderful for the city for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the courthouse will help carry the city to the next level in its design and capacity. It will bring a minimum of 5,000 people into the core of downtown the first day we walk in the door. I can see a day when it will bring 8,000-9,000 people a day downtown. There’s no question it will have a serious, good economic impact on downtown. In this day and age when ‘Under God’ is being stricken down by some strange court, I think we owe it to the city to stand by some tradition.”

— Circuit Court Judge A.C. Soud

“It will provide us with a very functional building and a building that symbolizes the stature of the courts. It should give visitors the impression that this is a place they can come and be treated fairly. It will make a statement.”

— Circuit Court Judge Lance Day

“‘We are thrilled with the Cannon design. It captures everything we were looking for in the courthouse complex but it does it in a way that is not just beautiful, but functional. The entire city can take a lot of pride in what we are building.”

— Audrey Moran, Mayor John Delaney’s chief of staff

“I think it will certainly satisfy our needs for many years to come. It’s a beautiful building and one that the city of Jacksonville can be very proud of.”

— Britt Beasley,

court administrator

“I really like it a lot. It fits in with our traditional theme of architecture we picked for the library.”

— Alberta Hipps, City Council member and mayoral candidate

“I think it’s great. What I really appreciate is that if we are going to build it then we are going to do it right so that it will stand the test of time. It showcases our community. I think all four designs looked really nice and and we were fortunate to have four good designs to choose from.”

— Gwen Yates,

City Council member

“It’s fabulous, it’s beautiful, it’s timeless. It’s something we will be proud of 100 years from now. There is space set aside for the future and there is plenty of access. The big winner is the public: this courthouse will be more convenient to get to, park near and use.”

— Rick Mullaney, general counsel

“I like it very much. It’s a significant building, very traditional and one that will last a long time. All four design groups got the message that we wanted something traditional. It will be wonderful compared to what we have been in which an old building. It will be an inspiration to all of us [judges] as we go to work everyday.”

— Circuit Court Judge

Dell Wallace

“I love the design proposed. I think it’s going to be a nice centerpiece for downtown Jacksonville and it’s close to the federal courthouse. I’m pretty excited about it. With the domes and columns, it looks very stately. From the outside, you can tell it’s an important building and that important things are going on inside. It brings back feelings of formality. Right now we just have a big rectangle.”

— Helen Albee, attorney

“It’s a big, ugly block. Some of the local firms did a better job on the style. The current design is not responsive to the Downtown Master Plan by closing off six city blocks. I don’t know where the fiber optic lines will be moved, either. It appears to be a copy of the Capitol building without an emphasis on infrastructure and I wonder if it’s going to come in under budget. I’m disappointed that the locals were not selected because they’re more sensitive to our needs and costs. I’m more concerned about the infrastructure. Six thousand people are anticipated to use the structure each day with only 3,400 parking spaces. Do the math.”

— Clyde Collins, attorney

“I’ve looked at the designs and I’ve been in a lot of courtrooms. When people think of judges and courtrooms, they should think of order and respect. It is an institution and an important one. It needs to be formal, official-looking and user-friendly. I’m real impressed with them getting input from people on the design.”

— Warren Anderson, attorney

“I can’t comment on the design, but the one they’re considering doesn’t seem to address the parking issue. Now, you can’t find a spot on Monday morning.”

— Jody Brooks, attorney

“My main concern is parking. We attorneys know the in’s and out’s — the secret little places to park. I worry for the average person who has business there. The issue of parking for consumers needs to be addressed.”

— Connie Clay, attorney

“I examined the designs and I like the style with the domes and columns [the Cannon design]. I think it’s got a few more square feet than the others, too, but I just like the look of it.”

— James Fischette, attorney

“I think it’s great. Anything’s better than what we’ve got now.”

— David Otero, attorney

“If I had to choose, I’d say KBJ. [Cannon Design] reminds me of the Capitol. I heard the committee wanted a conservative design but that limits the view. Where they’re building is completely built up.”

— Bryan Mickler, attorney

“I like the design. It has a classical, Roman look. It looks real good and is a vast improvement over what we’ve got. What I want to know is who that statue [in center of design] is. If it’s of Hank Coxe, I disapprove.”

— Rob Devine, attorney

“Each of the final designs are very impressive. The design that was ultimately chosen by the committee is handsome, dignified and of traditional design.”

— Circuit Court Judge Karen Cole

“It’s all right. It wasn’t my favorite. I like the more modern styles. I appreciate the old Greek or Gothic but they should have built a tower like Orlando instead of building out. We’re definitely excited though. The technology and the courtrooms are going to be state-of-the-art so I’m looking forward to it.”

— Joe Camerlengo, attorney

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