KMD designs court building centered on themes of transparency and accessibility
Alameda County will have a proud new architectural civic symbol - the East County Hall of Justice courthouse - a new 150,000 sq ft five-storey facility, sharing the site with a new 45,000 sq ft two-storey county building, both designed by KMD, expected to be completed by Fall 2013.
This new Courts and County facility provides a dignified civic identity where none now exists. The five-storey gleaming glass and metal façade, orientated in the solar optimal east-west direction yet shaded from undue solar gain, introduces a strong presence, reflecting the dignity and stability of the Court system, its accessibility and transparency. It will, at a minimum, achieve USGBC LEED Silver certification.
The architectural expression began with the goal of creating a building which not only evokes the distinction and honour appropriate to a courthouse facility, but presents a notable yet sympathetic addition to the suburban fabric of the city. A contemporary elegant and transparent silhouette, integrating an innovative fenestration approach for the south facade, mimics the surrounding rolling topography with contextual materials and colours.
The KMD design team worked 'inside out' and 'outside in', defining the massing and introducing a subtle interplay of simple but disjointed rectangular masses clustered around a central vertical entry tower, aligning itself with the visual axis of the main entry plaza. This axis creates a presence on the skyline and an appealing arrival destination. The five-storey Courts building to the north ‘looks over’ the lower two-storey height of the County office wing, stepped down in front of the taller structure. The horizontal massing of the courthouse conveys a perception of lower scale, lessening the visual impact to the surrounding residential neighbourhood. The wrapped glass and metal envelope displays a proud, dignified civic statement about the value and importance of a judicial facility within the context of a suburban environment.