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New ACT Law Courts will showcase sustainable design

The redevelopment of the ACT’s law courts will showcase sustainable design in a bid to meet the territory’s needs for the next 50 years in a more functional, flexible and sustainable way”.

According to ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell, the new building will be certified to a 5 Star (“Australian Excellence”) Green Star standard and incorporate “the installation of a 110-kilowatt capacity solar photovoltaic array, solar water heating, rainwater harvesting and end of journey facilities for cyclists”.

“A new integrated heating and cooling plant arrangement and improved lighting systems will also contribute to the energy efficiency of the new precinct,” Mr Corbell said.

The news was welcomed by the Green Building Council of Australia’s chief executive Romilly Madew, who said: “As the ACT Government works towards carbon-neutral operations by 2020, energy-efficient, cost-effective buildings play an essential role.

“A Green Star rating gives ACT taxpayers confidence that the infrastructure they are funding is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.

“Ensuring the long-term sustainability of the law courts will help the ACT Government save money, future-proof valuable assets, improve the productivity, health and wellbeing of workers and visitors, and ultimately create a stronger, more sustainable community.”

Redevelopment details

Although the contract to design, build, construct, finance and maintain the new courts has not yet been awarded, it was announced on Friday that the preferred bidder for ACT’s first Public–Private Partnership is the Juris Partnership, comprising Laing O’Rourke, Australia Construction Pty Ltd, Macquarie Capital Group Limited, Programmed Facility Management Pty Ltd and Lyons architects.

The Juris Partnership was selected over the Capital Courts consortium (comprising Richard Crookes Constructions, Brookfield Johnson Controls, Amber Infrastructure and Bates Smart Architects with Katsieris Origami Architecture) to redevelop and modernise the 51-year-old courts.

Expected to cost around $150 million, the project will incorporate the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court, Magistrates’ Court and Children’s Court, with a four-storey, new-link building fronting joining the existing Magistrates’ and refurbished Supreme Court buildings. It will also increase the number of courtrooms from 17 to 22 (with 18 planned for “immediate operation”), and boost the number of courts that are able to accommodate juries from three to five.

Some aspects of the existing court buildings will be utilised in the new design, including the marble cladding, internal atrium, and inscription over the existing court building, while the wood panelling of the original six courtrooms will be reused in the interior design.

A three-week public consultation on the plans was launched on Saturday, and it is expected that once the National Capital Authority approves the works, a final contract will be awarded by the end of the year.

If approved in November, construction will commence in early 2016, creating around 350 jobs, with completion scheduled for 2018.

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