Judicial Branch, State of New Hampshire
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HILLSBOROUGH NORTH RETURNS TO MANCHESTER
DOORS OPEN TODAY AT THE RENOVATED COURTHOUSE
October 18, 2011—Hillsborough County Superior Court North re-opened today at the newly renovated courthouse at 300 Chestnut Street in Manchester, revitalizing what has been a landmark location for the city since 1969. The building was closed 22 months ago and judges and staff were temporarily moved to Nashua to allow for asbestos abatement, gutting of the entire interior and renovation.
The cost for completion of the entire project, including installation of state of the art energy conservation systems and enhanced security measures, came in $3 million under budget, according to Administrative Services Commissioner Linda M. Hodgdon, whose department managed the project. The legislature had appropriated $18.4 million in the capital funds for the project; $15.4 million was spent.
"Judges, courthouse staff and citizens now have a safe and secure environment for the administration of justice and the work was done for under projected cost," Hodgdon said. "I want to thank state and local officials, judges, court administrators and law enforcement who worked hard for three years to make this project a reality. We can all be proud of the results."
Superior Court Chief Justice Tina L. Nadeau expressed her appreciation to the judges and staff at Hillsborough North, as well as members of the New Hampshire Bar and New Hampshire citizens for their cooperation while work was underway at the Manchester location. She also thanked Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau and city staff who worked with court officials to address parking for jurors and other issues that impacted downtown Nashua while Hillsborough North and Hillsborough South Superior Courts operated out of Nashua's Spring Street Courthouse. The Probate Division of the 9th Circuit Court will remain headquartered at the Spring Street location in Nashua but will continue to regularly hold hearings in Manchester at its satellite location in the 9th Circuit Courthouse at 35 Amherst Street.
"It's been a long road to this day but I think everyone agrees that this modern, dignified building demonstrates our state's commitment to the court system and the work it does every day for the citizens of our state who are seeking justice," Nadeau said.
A key aspect of the renovation project, designed by architects Lavallee Brensinger in Manchester, was to achieve gold LEEDS (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) status certified by the non-profit US Green Building Council. The council, based in Washington, DC, promotes environmentally responsible design, construction and renovation and efficient reuse of materials. The LEED rating system is considered the national standard for "green" buildings.
Approximately 95 percent of non-contaminated building materials such as interior doors, courtroom benches, and scrap metal removed during demolition of the Chestnut Street building was recycled or "repurposed" for use in other locations, according to Stephen Lorentzen the administrator of the state's Bureau of Court Facilities. Heavy granite panels - 4 x 10 feet and five inches thick-- from the front and back facades of the existing building were used to form the front plaza of the newly renovated structure and for two stair towers.
The remaining granite panels stayed in place as part of the newly redesigned facade of the courthouse, which now includes a "glass curtain wall" on the east and west sides of the building which, along with sky lights in the second floor courtrooms, dramatically improves natural light in the building and helps reduce operating expenses for utilities. The interior environment for light and temperature is controlled by sensors; thermostats will adjust automatically and lights will automatically dim and brighten based on the time of day and the number of people in the courtroom.
There are five jury courtrooms and one non-jury courtroom in the renovated building and two mediation conference rooms. Space is available in the future to fit up two additional courtrooms in the Chestnut Street building. The four jury courtrooms on the second floor are pre-wired for television and radio coverage of court proceedings. A new sally port allows safer transport of prisoners to and from the building and the organization of interior space into public, private and secure areas allows for safe transport of prisoners within the building – two features the prior building design lacked.
Funds for asbestos abatement, and renovation of the Chestnut Street courthouse were approved by lawmakers and Gov. John Lynch in 2009 after almost a year of extensive discussion and review of various options by a legislative working group led by Sen. Lou D'Allesandro of Manchester. Eventually, more than 1,400 boxes of case files as well as work stations and furniture, were moved from Manchester to Nashua in late December 2009 and virtually all Hillsborough North proceedings were conducted at the Nashua location for the ensuing 22 months, until the doors reopened on Chestnut Street in Manchester today.