Board hires Indy-based firm to design judicial center

The Indianapolis-based firm that designed the Jackson County Jail more than 20 years ago will play the same role in the construction of an $8.5 to $12 million judicial center in Brownstown.

County commissioners opted Tuesday to pay RQAW Consulting Engineers and Architects $546,000 to build the center, which will give Jackson Superior Court II a permanent home to conduct its business.

That court has been located in the courthouse annex, which once housed the jail, at 220 E. Walnut St. since it was established Jan. 1, 2008.

The decision to hire RQAW came after commissioners spent about four hours Monday interviewing officials with that firm and with Ratio Architects/DZL Engineering. Commissioners already had hired Garmong Construction Services to oversee the project from start to finish with the aim of reducing the cost of the project. Officials with that Terre Haute company participated in the interviewing process.

Commissioner Jerry Hounshel said both proposals were good, and county officials also are familiar with the work of Ratio. That company worked with the county to design the renovation of the courthouse and converting the jail into the courthouse annex in 2003 and 2004.

He said both proposals involved building the judicial center on the east side of Sugar Street across from the courthouse. At an estimated 35,000 square feet, the building would be designed to hold Jackson Superior Court II along with Jackson Superior Court I, which is presently located in Seymour, and Jackson Circuit Court, which is located in the courthouse.

There would be a sally port to keep inmates being transport from the jail to the center separate from the public and a separate staff entrance, Hounshel said. A corridor would be built to connect the judicial center to the annex.

The present plan is to have the conceptual design for the center finalized by Sept. 23 with the design completed in mid-February. Construction bids would be awarded in early April.

To put that plan in place, the design team will have to meet with commissioners, county council members and elected officials and department heads to determine space needs, Hounshel said.

Architect Eric Weflen, who recently became a principal partner in RQAW, will be serving as principal in charge and project manager. His most recent projects include the design of the Posey County Jail, Greenfield Fire Station 22, Fishers City Hall site and the Washington County Judicial Center.

Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at or 812-523-7051.