Leers Weinzapfel Associates creates new judicial facility in Massachusetts
Part of a tight urban ensemble, this new 146,000-sq-ft courthouse is a modern counterpoint to an existing historic courthouse. The challenge was to insert a new, much larger structure with its own strong identity onto the site, while maintaining the historic Superior Court as the centerpiece of the complex. The four-storey facility includes a light-filled entry pavilion that creates a plaza joining the new building to the Superior Courthouse.
Public offices and the two most active courtrooms are located on the ground floor, with additional courtrooms on the second. The third floor acts as the principle courtroom floor, while the top floor houses the Judicial Lobby suite. A public lobby and waiting area on each floor overlooks the forecourt, tower and garden. A glass entry tower not only provides a symbolic collective space for the building but also accommodates queuing spaces and a security checkpoint.
The cleft limestone cladding of the exterior and the light tower structure re-interpret the robust polychrome granite and tower of the historic courthouse in modern form and materials. Above the security checkpoint, wood paneled bay window seats project into the tower, creating waiting space on each floor. At night, the illumination in the tower provides site lighting for the safety of the forecourt and garden.
Sustainable features include: high efficiency systems, local materials, daylit public space, offices and courtrooms, and operable windows to provide natural ventilation. The building was completed in July 2011.