Johnson County Gets a new Home for Justice and Site for Civic Pride

Denver-based architectural design firm Fentress Architects and Johnson County Board of Commissioners announced the groundbreaking on July 12, 2018 for the new Johnson County Courthouse (JCCH) in Olathe, Kansas. Designed by Fentress Architects, in a partnership with Treanor HL, the state-of-the-art facility will create a modern distinctive civic campus and become Olathe’s tallest building. The $193 million project is being constructed by JE Dunn Construction and scheduled for completion in fall 2020. Upon opening, it will serve Johnson County for the next 75 years, accommodate the expected growth of 10,000 residents per year, and fulfill the County’s goal to reduce energy use by 30 percent.

Creating a new civic anchor adjacent to Olathe City Hall, the Johnson County Courthouse and master plan will create a unified judicial center by consolidating the court’s facilities into a single building that expresses the importance of justice and the Rule of Law. The new courthouse will be located on the northeast corner of Santa Fe and Kansas Avenue in Olathe, just north of the current facility’s location. In addition to the new JCCH, the project includes the development of a north parking lot site and redevelopment of the existing courthouse site into a public green space, establishing a new civic park. Sited to face the civic park, the new courthouse will be open and easily accessible to the public. “This courthouse is being designed with the maximum focus on the services the public needs when the public walks in the door,” said Joe Waters, Assistant County Manager at Johnson County.

The seven-story, 140-foot-tall JCCH will be approximately 320,000 square feet with 28 courtrooms and expandable space for additional courtrooms to serve all judicial needs for the county. Responding to the site and specific nature of courthouse design, the JCCH’s form and organization utilizes a sensitive design approach to meet the overall requirements and facilitate pedestrian movement around Olathe’s civic center. Simple design gestures will integrate efficient functions for users of the JCCH.

Notable design features will include a limestone wall above the main entry and the “Emporium of Justice,” which will serve as the courthouse’s main lobby where visitors enter and pass through security. The open, accessible design also contributes to the transparency in government, by making public functions visible to visitors from both the first and second floors. Public art commissioned by Los Angeles-based Ball-Nogues Studio will be displayed with pieces speaking to the JCCH’s overall themes.

“Fentress Architects is pleased to work with Treanor HL, JE Dunn Construction, and the County to produce a courthouse with a theme of open and accessible government for Johnson County” says Curtis Fentress, FAIA, RIBA, Principal in Charge of Design at Fentress Architects.

The JCCH is part of Fentress’ growing focus on civic architecture across the United States and abroad, including the curvilinear Regional Transportation Commission and Regional Flood Control District Headquarters in Las Vegas, Nevada (1999), the iconic San Joaquin County Administration building in Stockton, California (2009), the 1.36 million square foot Al-Farwania & Al-Jahra Court Complex in Kuwait City, Kuwait (2014), and the East County Hall of Justice in Dublin, California (2016).

Client  Johnson County Board of Commissioners

Architect  Fentress Architects (Design Architect), Treanor HL (Executive Architect)

Contractor  JE Dunn Construction

Location  Olathe, Kansas (approx. 30 minutes southwest of Kansas City, Missouri)

Program  Courtrooms, Offices, Admin Support Spaces, Public Space

Area  320,000 square feet

Status  Under Construction, Expected 2020

Sustainability Designed to LEED specifications and 30% reduction in energy use