Client: Rensselaer County, New York
Project Type: Comprehensive Interior and Exterior Restoration; Adaptive Use; New Design in Historic Context
Rensselaer County hired John G. Waite Associates to implement a phased plan to rehabilitate and restore the historic buildings at the main courthouse site. This complex, multi-phased project required the firm to design and manage the renovation of three buildings while always keeping two of the three buildings in use.
The first phase of the project included renovating the Third Street Annex to accommodate the County Clerk’s offices and some court functions. Removing the non-court related functions such as the County Clerk from the courthouse made room for expanded court facilities and more courtrooms. The second phase involved the restoration of the Second Street Annex which houses the grand Supreme Courtroom and the Supreme Court library. The Second Street Annex was formerly the Second Street Presbyterian Church until 1914, when a new connector tied it into the courthouse. The firm designed a new main entrance lobby between the Second Street Annex and the original courthouse building. This entrance provided a secure accessible entrance to the court facilities at two levels and serves the entire court complex. The infill building was created by moving the historic façade of the 1914 connector approximately 40 feet closer to Second Street. This created a lobby formed by the adjacent exterior faces of the historic buildings with a new facade off the rear parking lot. The stained glass laylight and glass dome skylight of the original connector were restored.
In the third and final phase of the project, the interior of the original courthouse was restored to include upgraded and expanded spaces for the County Court, Surrogate Court, Supreme Court, District Attorney’s Office, Public Defenders Office, and judge’s chambers. The elevator that had been inserted into the central Rotunda in 1954 was removed and the stained glass laylights were restored and replicated. A new elevator was placed off the entrance lobby to provide accessibility to all levels.
As a result of this project there were four courtrooms restored and two new courtrooms were added. All three buildings had new mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection systems provided. Furthermore, the restoration of the Rensselaer County Court Facilities preserved a landmark that will continue to serve the County for many years to come.