The Courthouse Centre is a ten-story, mixed use complex providing functional facilities for retail, corporate and residential tenants. Its office levels boast a 30,000 square foot floor plate - the largest in downtown Sarasota. In addition is a five-story, 421-car parking garage providing spaces for both the Courthouse Centre tenants and the neighboring historic Crisp Building to the immediate west.
The major challenge in designing the project was how to successfully insert a new ten-story structure into Main Street's existing fabric now predominantly consisting of two- and three-story structures. The project's developer also owns the Crisp Building to the west. A local artist had recently painted a five-story high mural on the east facade of this historic building that garnered praise from local art critics and was beginning to draw national attention for its artistic interpretation of Sarasota's lost landmarks. Needless to say, it was in the design's best interest to work with this artistic piece even if its longevity was questionable.
The initial plan was developed around a courtyard concept; a scheme which would provide the public an open urban plaza at the west end of Main Street. This 50 foot x 80 foot plaza would not only preserve the mural but would be backdrop to the large space which all building users pass through upon entering and exiting the complex. Separating the new ten-story structure from the smaller-scale Crisp Building also allowed for a more subtle transition to a building more than double in height from its neighbors.
The Courthouse Centre project takes a risk in providing the first modern-designed office complex in over twenty years in a city where modern architecture once flourished. It is also one of the first projects to provide such a broad range of uses in one complex. The two-story loft-style apartments at the upper levels are the first of their kind in Sarasota. The minimal design of these Live / Work units will allow for professionals to live and work downtown while contributing to a thriving, active downtown. The success of the Courthouse Centre will translate into the success of downtown itself, as people live, work and play in the city's downtown core.