TTV Architects Featured in Ascent Magazine

The Pensacola Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Pensacola, FL, was plagued by water-intrusion issues for nearly 20 years. The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) decided to evacuate the building, in order to complete a major renovation. GSA’s goals included improving the aesthetics of the building, says Christopher Noel, senior vice president of TTV Architects in Jacksonville, FL. “It had to present the image of a United States Courthouse-to have that sense of permanence about it,” says Noel.

The courthouse also had to be designed and built to withstand blasts and natural disasters, such as hurricanes. To correct water-intrusion problems, the existing brick façade would need to be removed and replaced. Various scenarios were analyzed, including a mix of brick and precast concrete. An all-precast concrete exterior with limestone embedded in the panels was judged the best way to meet GSA’s tight schedule and budget.

“Precast concrete made the most sense,” Noel says. “The panels only have panel-to-panel joints, as opposed to what you would have with brick or some other material, which reduced the number of joints we had to deal with.” Precast concrete was more budget friendly and most important, it enhances resilience by providing a stronger base product to minimize the damage caused by high winds, says Clay Hudson of Gate Precast Company in Monroeville, AL, which supplied the panels for the project. A total of 384 pieces of precast concrete were used, which came from the same quarry as the stone on the Empire State Building.

The scope of the remodel, which was completed in April 2020, encompassed mold abatement, replacement of the façade and standing-seam metal roof system, and repairs to structural damage. Work included the installation of a weather barrier as well as a new roof. The fire-safety system and heating, ventillation, and air-conditioning system were upgraded to include installation of variable air volume boxes and a new building automation system to better control humidity. Accessibility features were improved, and the building was renovated to comply with Florida’s current hurricane standards. In addition, the grounds and approaches to the courthouse were restored and the parking area repaved, along with other upgrades to improve stormwater drainage that are calibrated to 100-year storm surges.