Feature Illustration (above): Conceptual designs of a tilt-wall, three-story federal courthouse. Courtesy: Muñoz and Company.
by Adolfo Pesquera
San Antonio (Bexar County) — The U.S. General Services Administration, Region 7 Fort Worth office, has awarded the design-build contract for construction of the U.S. District Courthouse to Brasfield & Gorrie LLC, a Birmingham, Alabama-based general contractor.
The GSA gave notice of the award Thursday. It is valued at $117,484,181.
Founded in 1921 by Thos. C. Brasfield, Brasfield & Gorrie is one of the largest privately held construction companies in the United States and has a broad range of expertise in commercial, industrial and institutional projects.
Brasfield & Gorrie constructed the Hugo L. Black U.S. Courthouse in Birmingham for the GSA. This was a nine-story, 200,000-square-foot building with all tenant finishes and an underground parking level.
The San Antonio project will be of a similar mass but not as tall. Although, project planners had at one time ambitions of building a 305,000-square-foot building composed of two wings, one being five stories and the other two, and with an underground parking level, budget constraints forced them to revise the initial concept.
Current plans are for a three-story, tilt-wall building with a gross square footage of 225,127 SF and no underground garage. There is to be 90 surface parking spaces of which 20 will be enclosed.
The new courthouse will be located on the 7-acre site that was formerly home to the San Antonio Police Department headquarters. It was given to the GSA as part of a land swap with the City of San Antonio. The site, currently vacant, is bounded by Santa Rosa Avenue, Nueva Street, Graham Avenue and the San Pedro Creek. The creek is being redeveloped by the San Antonio River Authority and will become a substantial landscaping feature providing walkability for a courthouse that will not have any parking for visitors.
West facade (facing Santa Rosa Ave.) of the proposed federal courthouse. Courtesy: Muñoz & Co.
After years of seeking funding, a congressional committee authorized $144 million in early 2016 for the project. That fall, Austin-based White Construction Co. was awarded the contract. However, the concept envisioned by Lake|Flato was scrapped over the course of the next year and the GSA dropped White Construction.
In the fall of 2017, the GSA solicited contractors for a design build delivery method. Muñoz and Company became lead architect and project manager.
The GSA narrowed the solicitations to three companies in February. Brasfield & Gorrie and its competitors were given stipends of $20,000 each and access to the Muñoz bridging documents to come up with their respective designs and cost estimates.
The revised site plan portrays the outline of a three-story building with a smaller parking lot and no underground parking.
U.S. Rep. Will Hurd announced the contractor selection Wednesday, a day in advance of the GSA notification.
“After working closely with local officials and a bipartisan cohort of my colleagues in Congress to secure this funding, including Senator John Cornyn and Rep. Henry Cuellar, I’m proud to see this project progressing. San Antonians deserve a secure facility that prioritizes the health and physical safety of employees and civilians, not a 1960’s movie theatre that is poorly suited for its current use,” Hurd said.
The congressman was making reference to the fact that the current John Wood Jr. U.S. Courthouse on Cesar Chavez Boulevard was retrofitted to be a courthouse facility. It was originally built to be the U.S. Pavilion for the 1968 World’s Fair.
“Not only will a new secure facility alleviate countless concerns, it will be a beacon of downtown San Antonio’s renaissance,” Hurd added.
Construction is to begin in the spring of 2019, Hurd said. The new facility will house the U.S. District Courts for the Western District of Texas, a federal appellate court, clerk of the court, magistrate courts, U.S. Marshals, U.S. Attorneys, probation and pretrial services, the Federal Public Defender and GSA personnel.
The project site for the federal courthouse, as viewed from the corner of Santa Rosa and Graham looking northeast. Image: Google Streets.