FAIRFAX COUNTY HISTORIC COURTHOUSE
Fairfax City, VA
Historic Preservation, Renovation, Sustainable Design
National Register Listed
Originally constructed in 1799, when the previous county seat at Alexandria became part of the District of Columbia, the Courthouse functioned as designed until the early 20th century, when county needs required more space. Between 1920 and 1990, Fairfax County made several additions to their historic structure, using the two-story 1799 building, with its distinctive brick colonnade as a prototype, and adding three additional arcades to the south, connected by brick office wings.
After extensive use over the years the Fairfax County Courthouse complex was in need of reprogramming and repair and Davis Buckley Architects and Planners (DBA) was selected for the Renovation and Adaptive Reuse of the Historic Courthouse. Initially working closely with the client, DBA developed a program and design for the northern wing that improved the appearance and functioning of the Fairfax County Archives and Records Branch, which holds archival materials of civic necessity and national significance. DBA also undertook a renovation of the exterior of the entire complex. Exterior work included a new accessible entry to the building, below-grade waterproofing, roofing and flashing repair, window repair, and brick repointing. Built over several decades, foundation conditions, wall types, windows and roofing details differed at each portion of the building, and work required detailed consideration, not only of each condition, but also of the joints between each section. In particular, the exterior repair work at the 1799 Courthouse, so critical to the identity of the complex and the County, protected the historic fabric to the greatest extent possible and ensured its survival for another generation.
The renovation of the Fairfax County Historic Courthouse and Records Center complied with LEED guidelines and the construction project is LEED Certified Equivalent. The project maximized the reuse of the historic fabric. In addition to the careful repair of the exterior, on the interior, limestone floors, plaster walls, and even the historic safe remained in place and were reused. Together, the new LED lighting and a more efficient HVAC system dramatically decreased the energy load of the structure.
The design project was performed in two phases. Phase I consisted of Programming, a Needs Assessment, and a Proposed Project Implementation Matrix with associated costs and priorities. In Phase II, DBA led a multi-disciplinary team of structural, civil, and MEP engineers through Design Development, Construction Documents, Bidding, Construction Administration and Post Construction Services. DBA worked closely with Fairfax County to define schedules within which the project would be completed. The Courthouse remained open and fully operational during the period of renovation, a client requirement that demanded required careful organization and communication between the client and the contractor.