Part of a tight urban ensemble, the new courthouse is a modern counterpoint to the historic Richardsonian courthouse facing the town green. Much larger than the historic building, it asserts its own strong identity while allowing the Superior Court to remain the centerpiece of a courts complex.
The concept for the building is a low bar for courtrooms and administrative offices, with a tall entry tower for security and waiting on its long side. The bar is oriented with its short end to the street to minimize its scale in the three and four-story context. The entry tower divides the site into a forecourt on the street and a garden at the inner block. The courtroom bar is clad in a cleft limestone while the tower is completely glazed, re-interpreting the robust polychrome granite and tower of the historic courthouse in modern form and materials.
Inside the courthouse, an inviting open stair rises along the window wall overlooking the garden, joining administrative offices on the first and second floors and the main courtrooms on the third floor. A penthouse story accommodates judges’ chambers.
Energy efficiency shaped the configuration of the building and its openings. Large windows line the long north and south faces of the building bringing generous natural daylight into public lobby, offices and courtrooms. Projected louvers control solar gain on the south side. In the third floor courtrooms, large north facing clerestory windows flood the room with daylight throughout most operating hours. Operable windows in office areas provide users with natural ventilation and individual comfort. A combination of water conservation measures, systems controls, and wise choice of materials all contribute to the building’s LEED Gold status.