Wausau Successfully Combines Security, Aesthetics and Performance for New Mecklenburg County Courthouse

Consolidating the county's fragmented justice facilities and eliminating deficiencies and public confusion among three existing courthouses, the new Mecklenburg County Courthouse in Charlotte, N.C. will bring all of its courtrooms and support services underneath one roof when it opens in January 2007. Helping protect the new facility and its occupants, Wausau Window and Wall Systems provided a 75,000-square-foot blast mitigating curtainwall system that adheres to heightened security measures mandated by the U.S. government, while maintaining the aesthetic integrity of the architect's design.

Selected for its expertise in blast mitigation, Wausau's project manager Carl Wanta explains, "Wausau's experience in these types of projects made us a logical choice for this project, along with our ability to work and coordinate directly with other trades such as the architects, consultants and glaziers."

Relying on these collaborative practices and well-respected engineering skills, Juba Aluminum of Concord, N.C. called on Wausau to develop a unitized curtainwall system that would withstand an extremely high static equivalent blast pressure. Blast consultants at Hinman Consulting Engineers, San Francisco, further enhanced Wausau and Juba's expertise and ensured critical calculations were correct for modeling, mock-ups and the final curtainwall system.

With sensitivity to system's blast mitigation features, Wausau fabricated the fully unitized system in its quality-controlled, Wisconsin-based manufacturing facility. The courthouse's curtainwall also includes 100 vertical pivoting windows, additional fixed windows, and framing depths ranging from six- to 10-inches. All of the aluminum was finished by Linetec in a custom, two-color paint scheme.

"It was a typical tough job requiring a lot of effort on everyone's behalf," says Jeff Heinz, project manager for Juba Aluminum. "Given all that needed to get done, Wausau was able to accommodate the necessary timeline."

Fitting with Charlotte's 2010 plan for a unified government district in the city center, the new $143 million facility is expected to meet the county's growth needs for the next 20 years. When it opens in the New Year, the Mecklenburg County Courthouse will offer 35 finished courtrooms, four shelled courtrooms, a basement including 50 parking spaces, 135 holding cells, and a tunnel connecting the courthouse to the jail central across the street.

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