New courthouse incorporates geometry and light to create truly civic space
Faced with continued population increase, inefficient operations and security concerns, the courts system in this County was housed in a physically fragmented system, spread among four different facilities. To consolidate the needed court groups and support services under one roof, on a tight downtown urban site, the design team placed a 440,000 sq ft, 9-storey right-triangle building squarely up to the street line on two sides, with its hypotenuse facing two other courts buildings across a landscaped plaza on the interior of the block.
The new building includes the Superior and District Courts, and has been organised to provide clear, easily understood circulation between all the functions. The perimeter of the triangular plan accommodates courtrooms and office space along the two street frontages, with the public elevators and a monumental stair on the third / oblique side of the triangle, overlooking the courtyard plaza.
The building's corner entrance is denoted by imposing columns rising through four levels of covered exterior space. Above it, a tower form crowned with an abstract cornice acts as a civic landmark. Along the two street frontages, covered arcades offer welcoming shelter to pedestrians. The building exterior is clad in stone, thoughtfully detailed, with rough-hewn grey granite at the column bases. The composition of the facades modulates contextually from flat, planar surfaces punctuated with rectilinear voids as windows and arcade openings, to the more sculptural, semi-classical round columns and deeper relief of the corner entry tower.
Bringing natural light into the center of this triangular plan is a day-lit semicircular atrium, which provides orientation to visitors, a public art piece, and a sense of spaciousness to offset the tensions frequently associated with the court's business. The new courthouse will serve as a focal point and gateway to its city, while reflecting the dignity and gravity of the judicial system.