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Denver Justice Center, Denver, Colorado, United States

Thursday 30 Jun 2011

Doing it justice

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Ricci Greene Associates design impressive justice centre in Denver 

Courthouses and jails are important landmarks in downtown districts, and are evolving to express an enlightened approach to the administration of justice and public safety. The new Denver Colorado Justice Center, comprised of the new Van-Cise Simonet Detention Center and Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse, is conceived as an extension of the Denver Civic Center (which includes the historic State Capitol, the City/County Building and the United States Mint). The transparent facades of the courthouse and jail focus on the public space and communicate their mission of public service. 

The exuberant faceted clear glazed curtainwall of the courthouse illuminates the public circulation areas of this large 35 courtroom structure with morning light, with the more restrained composition of the detention center in sober counterpoint. Daylight is provided deeply into each of these buildings, entering the courtrooms through borrowed light clerestories, and in the detention center through civic scaled windows into the common areas outside the detainee sleeping areas.

The presence of daylight and the prominence of the monumental stair that links all the public spaces in the courthouse enliven the public experience of using the building, with the irregular plan of the stair and the adjoining curtain wall recalling the nearby Front Range of the Rocky Mountains visible from the private side of the building. The jury assembly space is also a major public room used for community meetings and events, strengthening the connection between the courts and the community it serves.

A collaborative design led by klipp architecture with RicciGreene Associates, the 317,000 SF Courthouse acts as the anchor of the new Justice Center. The design approach maximizes compactness, security, and convenience. Hartman-Cox/RicciGreene Associates/VRJS/Oz Architecture designed the 439,000 SF, 1,500-bed Detention Center to reduce arrest to arraignment times and length of stay for detainees. It includes central booking, two new arraignment courtrooms that operate virtually around the clock as well as a variety of daylit housing units specially designed to serve the needs of a short-term pre-trial population.

The architecture of these buildings integrates sustainable design features which will result in a LEED Gold Courthouse, and a LEED Silver Detention Center, including green roofs, natural ventilation in the atrium, daylight sensors/efficient lighting design and optimized energy performance.

The goal of the planning and the design of the Denver Justice Center is a city that is safer, more beautiful, and more just.

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Ricci Greene Associates

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