United States Federal Courthouse

Springfield, Massachusetts, 2008

The Federal Courthouse is set on State Street, adjacent to the Cathedral of the Catholic Archdiocese, the Museum Quadrangle and the Springfield Main Public Library. It forms part of the institutional district of a city rich in history. The courthouse contains four courtrooms and forms a spiralling crescent around three ‘heritage trees’ – a copper beech, a linden and a black walnut – ranging in age from 200 to 500 years. The First Armory of the United States, established by George Washington, is located just up State Street from the site. A colonnaded entry pavilion facing the visual axis from downtown leads to a curved colonnade accommodating a pedestrian promenade and grand stair. The stair ascends to the building’s third and principal public level, where the courtrooms and jury suites are located. A curved gallery tracing the colonnade and the trees – with views south and of downtown, and containing public sitting areas – leads to the courtrooms. The judges’ chambers are accommodated in a separate smaller structure – a parsonage-like annex to the main courthouse – that relates in scale to the existing residential buildings to the north. The public spaces are formed by a series of layers: a precast-concrete colonnade, a glass screen with minimal framing, a limestone wall with large openings and an inner wall. This wall, which leads to the courtrooms, features a 61-metre-long (200-foot) mural by the American artist Sol LeWitt, installed as part of the General Services Administration’s Art in Architecture program. The required security measures for a federal courthouse have been accommodated with minimal visibility and without compromising the sense of openness and transparency appropriate to a civic building representing justice.

Project Type: Government

Client: United States General Services Administration

Cost: $57 million

Size: 162000