Wiley|Wilson is pleased to announce that the Howard County Circuit Courthouse in Columbia, Maryland, was named an Engineering Excellence Award Grand winner by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC)/Virginia. Wiley|Wilson provided MEP design services for the new facility. Together with members Edgemoor Infrastructure and Real Estate (developer), Clark Construction Group, LLC (general construction), and HOK Group, Inc. (architecture), the team created a new building that was recognized for its forward-looking design approach, focus on occupant comfort, and long-term efficiencies.
With this win, the project is eligible for the Pinnacle Award, which is given to the best overall project.
“We are honored that our industry peers and colleagues selected Howard County for this esteemed prize and that they recognize the innovation and future value to engineering that the project symbolizes,” said Neil McSweeney, Wiley|Wilson President and COO. “Courthouses are vital to communities, and we are proud to have helped design an award-winning facility that will serve the residents of Howard County for decades to come.”
“Howard County used a Public-Private Partnership (P3) setup so they could incorporate finance and maintenance into the typical design-build contract,” explained Ron Smiley, PE, Wiley|Wilson Project Manager. “Because of this arrangement, the team was able to consider long-term, more innovative design solutions that factor in the total life cycle of the building and systems. Having incentives for reliability and long-term maintenance built-in, our team was able to make design decisions for the next 30 years that will be both cost- and energy-efficient for the long term.”
This is not the first Wiley|Wilson project to be recognized by ACEC/VA: The Combined Heat and Power Plant at the US Naval Support Facility Indian Head, MD, was named a Grand Award winner in 2016, and the Richmond City Justice Center also earned an Honor Award that year. In 2014, the firm won the Pinnacle Award for its design of the Naval Research Laboratory, Laboratory for Autonomous Systems Research (NRL-LASR). That same year Wiley|Wilson received an Honor Award for improvements made to the Wintergreen Water System. In 2013, our design of the Virginia Tech Materials Management Facility earned an Honor Award and in 2012 we received an Honor Award for the Center for Advanced Engineering and Research (CAER) facility in Bedford, VA.
About Howard County Circuit Courthouse
The original Howard County Courthouse was built in 1843 and had become outgrown and outdated. Wiley|Wilson provided MEP design for a new, 232,000 square foot, four-story, LEED-Gold certified Courthouse and adjacent six-story parking garage. A sophisticated technology system design allows for enhanced public safety and security through the integration of intelligent building systems. The Fire Alarm, Mass Notification, and Public Address Systems are fully integrated, reducing visual interruptions with combined devices. Smart screens such as Internet-connected Televisions (IPTVs) and scheduling displays are programmed to display mass notification and public address messages so that urgent messages have a better chance of reaching targeted occupants and zones. Enhanced electrical reliability is provided through entire-building backup generators running on natural gas to enable a shelter–in-place philosophy. The building’s information technology (IT) systems are provided with a centralized Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) distribution system. If both natural gas and electrical utilities are lost, there is a provision for a manual, temporary generator to be connected to the system. In addition, there is a ground- and roof- mounted photovoltaic (PV) solar panel system producing 790 kilowatts (kW) of generation, translating to 1,105,300 kilowatt hours of generation per year.
Occupant comfort is a key consideration in the new space. The HVAC system provides a comfortable and healthy indoor environment while minimizing energy and allowing flexibility for future building modifications. Systems were selected and designed to optimize reliability, reduce service interruptions, and maintain lower maintenance costs. The health and well-being of the public were taken into account in the design including the use of a 100-percent direct outdoor air system (DOAS). This increased ventilation helps to reduce the risk of airborne illnesses through air dilution.
Courthouses always host sensitive and confidential conversations. Therefore, acoustics within the building were a critical design consideration. The MEP systems includes acoustic considerations throughout, from the treatment of penetrations, to lining of air ducts, vibration isolation of rotating machinery, and reduced friction diffusers and grilles.
The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) represents more than 5,000 independent professional engineering companies throughout the United States engaged in the development of America’s transportation, environmental, industrial, and community infrastructure. Founded in 1909 and headquartered in Washington, DC, ACEC is a national federation of 51 state and regional organizations, including Virginia’s chapter, ACEC/VA.