Designing for Justice – AIA 2008 Justice Facilities Review

Each year the American Institute of Architects Academy of Architecture for Justice publishes the Justice Facilities Review, which showcases projects throughout the United States that integrate exemplary, proven strategies in the design and construction of justice facilities.

The Justice Facilities Review provides industry professionals with a peer-generated indicator of progressive trends within justice facility architecture.

The Justice Academy jury selected 28 projects that demonstrate quality of form, functionality and current architectural responses to complex justice design issues. The jury, which comprised industry professionals and representatives from the justice and government sectors, awarded six citations for architectural and design excellence.

The Justice Facilities Review is published by the AIA in September and forms part of a traveling exhibit that will tour the country throughout the coming year.

Essex County Courthouse, Newark, N.J.

Architect Statement: Designed by famed architect Cass Gilbert, the original marble-clad structure is one of the finest county courthouses in the United States. The building’s recently completed renovation and restoration illustrates the potential to transform an architectural landmark into a more useable building by creating new programmed spaces from underutilized spaces, while simultaneously conserving and restoring the full range of exterior and interior decorative features to their original grandeur.

Jury Statement: To achieve success in the restoration/renovation of historically significant buildings, the architect faced three challenges: create excellence in design, design a courthouse to modern functional standards, and respect the integrity of the original building. The solution was well at every level. Not only are the spaces, materials and finishes well integrated, the challenging issues of fire and safety, HVAC and lighting were resolved with remarkable dexterity. The community received a wonderful gift when this vitally important historic landmark was restored to a high level of excellence for use as a public resource.

Type of Facility: Courthouse
Area: 106,000 square feet
Capacity: 11 courtrooms
Construction Cost: $43 million
Project Status: Completed 2005

Owner: Essex County, N.J.
Architect: Michael J. Mills, FAIA,
Farewell Mills Gatsch Architects, Princeton, N.J.
Structural Engineer: Schoor DePalma, Philadelphia
Mechanical Engineer: J.R. Loring and Associates, Lawrenceville, N.J.
Conservation Consultant: Hall Construction Company Inc., Howell, N.J.
Heritage Preservation Consultant: Building
Conservation Associates, New York
Acoustics & Audio/Visual Consultant: Acentech Inc., Cambridge, Mass.
Landscape Design Consultant: Barreto/Dowd, Howell, N.J.
Lighting Consultants: Ann Kale Lighting, Santa Barbara, Calif.
Interior Design Consultant: Switzer Group, New York


Wheeling Federal Building and U.S. District Courthouse, Wheeling, W.Va.

Architect Statement: This new U.S. district court facility serves the court’s functional program and is a dignified expression of the federal presence. The design recalls, in its stenciled glass and steel portico and curved glass atrium, a proud period of national preeminence as a center for innovative steel and glass product manufacture, connecting the contemporary city to its past and intimating a promising future. It also respects and enhances the existing 1905 federal courthouse to which it is attached and organizes the complex new program elements to help restore the integrity of the city block and surrounding urban neighborhood. The glazed atrium, with its grand stair and integrated glass/light sculpture, creates a new inviting civic space that is visible from the outside.

Jury Statement: The addition of a four-story connective atrium, which is layered with a substance and symbolism, gives meaning to a contemporary aesthetic within the parameters of a traditional context. The jury was particularly impressed with the rigor evident in the solution: from the reorganized interior — with its clear distinction of public and secure circulation — to the layered transparency of the atriums façade. Design decisions relative to materiality, daylighting, circulation, visibility and scale are all derivative of a thoroughly researched understanding of the existing buildings, the urban context and the city’s industrial and manufacturing heritage. The atrium provides the city and the building occupants with an urban showcase, framing views of the activities within while elegantly deferring to the traditional vocabulary of the existing architecture. Controlled daylight permeates deep into interior spaces, which maintains the security of the courtrooms while providing views into the newly conceived interior civic space. Overall this submittal clearly communicates how the skillful integration of three existing buildings can revitalize an entire city block. In doing so, the judicial complex and the city are the recipients of a dynamic and dignified public space.

Facility Type: Courthouse
Area: 170,000 square feet
Construction Cost: $20.6 million
Project Status: Completed 2004

Owner: U.S. General Services Administration, Washington
Architect: Goody Clancy, Boston
Associate Architect, Structural/Mechanical/Electrical Engineer: HLM Design,
Bethesda, Md.
Civil Engineer: Cerrone & Associates, Wheeling, W.Va.
Landscape Design Consultant: Mahan Rykiel, Baltimore, Md., Applied Environmental, Inc., Reston, Va.
General Contractor: Dick Corporation, Pittsburgh
Photographer: Anton Grassl/Esto, Exeter, Pa.


U.S. District Courthouse, Alpine, Texas

Architect Statement: The new U.S. courthouse in Alpine is a very particular response to the extraordinary quality of the local landscape, the harsh regional climate and the very specific mission of the courthouse occupants. The simplicity and solidity of the building take full account of the powerful Trans-Pecos terrain that predominates. Its materials, such as russet-colored, dry-stacked local sandstone link the building to the larger landscape and provide the high thermal mass appropriate for a climate with a high diurnal swing. All of the primary departments housed in the courthouse have a distinct entryway along an open, covered walkway that surrounds a central courtyard. A double-height rotunda connects lower floor functions with the courtroom and judges chambers on the second floor.

Jury Statement: This modest project works with a remote but exceptional site, in a simple but sophisticated manner that successfully incorporates security, climatic-mitigation strategies and local materials in a design solution that is grounded in the surrounding landscape. The dry-laid local stone walls, the simple landmark entry rotunda, the horizontally oriented wood detailing and the clear organization of the building components around an exterior courtyard all contribute to this relationship with the site. The use of the courtyard and its exterior covered walkway as the primary circulation and organizational device instead of an air conditioned interior route is in alignment with the facility’s rugged context and the overarching restraint that defines the project.

Facility Type: Courthouse
Area: 38,620 square feet
Capacity: 1 Courtroom/Magistrate
Project Cost: $12.9 million
Project Status: Completed 2007

Owner: Amelang Partners, Houston
Architect: Lawrence W. Speck,
PageSoutherlandPage, Austin, Texas
Structural Engineer: Walter P. Moore, Austin, Texas
Mechanical/Electrical Engineer: PageSoutherlandPage
Landscape Design Consultant: Rialto
Studio, Inc., San Antonio
General Contractor: W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Company, San Antonio
Security Consultant: IR Security & Safety, Georgetown, Texas
Photographer: Chris Cooper, San Antonio



Haifa Courthouse, Haifa, Israel

Architect Statement: Designed to serve all the judiciary instances, the building is composed of two wings — a judicial wing containing 110 courtrooms and 70 judges chambers and an administration wing featuring administrative space — with unique functional and spatial characteristics. The division into functional wings demarcated with a monumental entrance hall, which constitutes a connective link, facilitates a flexible arrangement of areas that is independent of the judicial hierarchy and an allocation of courtrooms and chambers that does not disturb the flow of administrative activity. The central idea of the operational functional planning is the adoption of a systemic approach that treats the building as a law factory where functional efficiency takes precedence over considerations of prestige and status.

Jury Statement: This large and complex facility is elegantly resolved on a number of levels. Urbanistically, the straightforward and minimalist composition gives the building a dignity and purity that sets it apart from the surrounding context. Its exterior massing is an expression of clear logical internal organization. The judicial and administrative wings are separated by a monumental public atrium that supports a flexible use of the courts while bringing light into interior spaces and providing views out into the surrounding city. Several other exuberant elements highlight the otherwise refined minimalist approach that extends from the detailing of the internal atrium components into the design of the courtrooms. The result is a modern expression of justice in the 21st century.

Facility Type: Courthouse
Area: 450,000 square feet
Capacity: 70 courtrooms
Project Cost: $118 million
Project Status: Completed 2004

Owner: Government of Israel
Architect: Chyutin Michael, Givataim, Israel
Associate Architect: Chyutin Bracha, Givataim, Israel
Structural Engineer: Ephraim Maler, M.Sc., Building & Structural Engineer Ltd., Haifa, Israel
Mechanical Engineer: Eng. S. Lustig – Consulting Engineers Ltd., Tel-Aviv, Israel
Electrical Engineer: Dan Shron Consulting Engineers 2002 Ltd., Haifa, Israel
Park/Traffic Consultant: Tedem Engineering, Haifa, Israel
Acoustics & Audio/Visual Consultant: M.G. Acoustical Engineer, Herztlia, Israel
Landscape Design Consultant: Miller-Blum, Haifa, Israel
General Contractor: Solel-Bonea, Tel-Aviv, Israel
Photographer: Ardon Bar-Hama, Ranana, Israel



Hollenback Replacement Police Station, Los Angeles

Architect Statement: This replacement police station is designed to reflect an open, community-serving police force, strengthen the civic center and highlight the community’s distinct tradition of artistic expression. Significantly larger than the existing facility, the new sustainable facility’s internal organization will provide a cohesive sense of space for more than 200 officers and staff. The exterior walls are highlighted by a staccato rhythm of rectangular windows and insets, while an open plaza sets off the striking public entrance. The station’s layered-glass entry wall adds an artistic focal point, while creating a welcoming public entrance. The glass façade allows diffused light and views into the lobby by day and is transformed into a glowing beacon by night. While maintaining a sense of openness and energy, the design also provides the necessary security.

Jury Statement: Inspired by the concept of community policing and the desire to make a significant contribution to the public realm, the Hollenback police facility establishes a new frontier in design for security and public safety. Reflecting the artistic culture of its community, shattered planes of glass define the facility’s front entry to establish an energetic and welcoming public face while responding technically to potential threats, such as explosive devices. The two-story entrance space provides controlled access to a clear, simple and functional plan, while the materiality and syncopated rhythm of fenestration provides connection to the surrounding urban fabric. Creating a civic plaza as part of the project is a bold, community-minded idea that is indicative of the possibilities inherent in this project type.

Owner: Los Angeles Police Department
Architect: AC Martin Partners, Los Angeles
Landscape Design Consultant: Melendrez Design Partners, Los Angeles
Construction Contractor: Harris
Construction Co. Inc., Fresno, Calif.
Construction Management: Kitchell, Fresno, Calif.
Security Consultant: EASI, Irvine, Calif.
Specifications Consultant: CSI, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Programming Consultant: Jay Farbstein & Assoc., San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Facility Type: Law Enforcement
Area: 165,900 square feet
Construction Cost: $31.1 million
Project Status: Estimated Completion Date September 2008



Fort Collins Police Services Facility, Fort Collins, Colo.

Architect Statement: The design of the Fort Collins facility clearly articulates the functional purposes of the red sandstone-clad building. From a free-standing community room to an art-enhanced plaza, the notion of justice is balanced with a familiar, welcoming presence. Recalling the silhouette of a distant prairie schooner, the building casts deep shadows over its highly articulated perimeter. Breaking the complex program into use-specific components reduced the perceived footprint and resulted in an appropriately scaled community touchstone that provides modern municipal facilities. Embraced as a civic landmark, the facility is designed to achieve LEED Silver Certification.

Jury Statement: The police services facility creates a strong civic landmark that anchors the site in a kind of plains regionalism. The use of consistent materials serves to articulate the design in an appropriate manner, while numerous projections that traverse from portions of the building envelope to the adjacent landscape enhance the integration of interior and exterior environments. The facility features a clear separation of public and secure spaces, both from an interior and exterior perspective, with an organizational emphasis and operational design that address user needs. The integrated atrium and report-writing space, a linearity of volume in the plan that maximizes interior daylighting and the clear articulation of exterior community space are particularly noteworthy.

Owner: City of Fort Collins, Colo.
Architect: Humphries Poli Architects, Denver
Associate Architect: The Neenan Company, Fort Collins, Colo.
Structural Engineer: Martin/Martin, Lakewood, Colo.
Mechanical/Electrical Engineer: M-E Engineers Inc., Wheat Ridge, Colo.
Civil Engineer: Interwest Consulting Group, Windsor, Colo.
Landscape Design Consultant: Vignette Studios, Fort Collins, Colo.
Programming Consultant: Brinkley
Sargent Architects, Dallas
Photographer: Ed LaCasse, Denver
Artist: Chevo Studio, Denver

The Jury

Michael A. Moxam, OAA, MAA, FRAIC, AIA, LEED AP (chair)
Stantec Architecture Ltd.

Sheriff Beth Arthur
Arlington County
Arlington, Va.

Chief of Police James Bradley
White Plains Police Department
White Plains, N.Y.

David H. Clusiau, AIA
NORR Limited Architects & Engineers

Jude Del Preore
Trial Court Administrator, Burlington County, New Jersey
Mount Holly, N.J.

Jeff Sheppard, AIA
Roth + Sheppard Architects

Edward C. Spooner, AIA
Vice President Design Services Geo Group
Boca Raton, Fla.