The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
ARB to discuss new city courthouse
BY ROBYN SIDERSKY
If you can’t hear enough about columns, cornices and louvers, you won’t want to miss Monday’s Architectural Review Board meeting in Fredericksburg.
The ARB has already approved the site planning, scale and most other elements related to the new $34.5 million courthouse, which is expected to be completed at Princess Anne and Charlotte streets in May 2014.
Now it comes down to the architectural minutiae:
Should the stately columns be hollow or solid?
Does the roof design fit with the historical nature of downtown without presenting “a false sense of history”?
Will the louvers in the third-story window openings create a haven for birds?
All will be discussed—likely in detail—at the 7:30 p.m. meeting in City Hall’s council chambers. The meeting is open to the public, though the ARB is no longer taking comments about the courthouse.
Basically, the city needs the ARB to grant one more permission for the project: for the materials.
So Monday’s meeting is likely to include lively debates over whether Indiana limestone or cast stone is better for the building’s foundation or whether glass fiber reinforced mineral composite is a suitable material for the cornice, the decorative molding that lines the roof of the courthouse.
The ARB has sent the architectural and design team back to the drawing board a few times. At the last meeting on July 23, project architect Andrew Moore, of Glavé and Holmes, addressed some of the board’s concerns, such as whether the flagpole should go on the ground or be mounted on the building. Moore suggested the building due to lack of space on the ground.
The minutes of the last meeting show the level of detail some board members were interested in, such as whether the roof chillers would make noise.
The ARB isn’t the only board scrutinizing the architect’s plans. The City Council has had multiple opportunities to suggest changes. The City Council recently moved forward with the project by approving 14-foot-ceilings, but shelved a fourth courtroom. The council also approved the preliminary 35 percent design review plans that have been submitted by the architect.
Every decision regarding the courthouse has not come easily—the council is divided on the issue. Council members Matt Kelly, Fred Howe, Brad Ellis and at times Bea Paolucci have challenged the project at length, while George Solley, Kerry Devine and Mayor Mary Katherine Greenlaw have been in favor of it.
But with the two buildings at 701 and 707 Princess Anne Street in the midst of being flattened, the project is moving forward. The meeting is open to the public.
Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413