This new 290,000 GSF Federal Courthouse is located prominently on the Cedar River in downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The courthouse houses District, Magistrate, and Bankruptcy Courts, as well as appellate court judge chambers and ancillary facilities.
EXPRESSING THE OPEN NATURE OF THE JUDICIAL PROCESS - Defining a Democratic Spirit of Openness and Approachability
Celebrating the Six Courtrooms: Running two-thirds the length of the building's front face is a 100-foot tall glass gallery overlooking the city. Each courtroom entrance is celebrated along the gallery, visible from both inside and outside, making the building approachable and understandable, indeed celebrating a citizen's right to a public trial in as strong a way as possible. These ideas emerged from careful study of the strong tradition of Iowa county courthouses, buildings which were deeply accessible and central to their towns.
Windows in every courtroom: Convinced of the importance of natural light for jurors and participants alike, every courtroom has two walls of glass - very unusual among recently completed courthouses. Given the necessary segregated circulation systems of a modern courthouse, only when this quality, having windows in every courtroom, is set forth as a major organizing focus at the beginning of the design can this amount of natural light be achieved in the courtrooms.
CIVIC ARCHITECTURE DERIVED FROM PLACE - Linking the Courthouse with the Urban Fabric of Cedar Rapids
Engaging the city and river: The building capitalizes on its site at the edge of the Cedar River and on axis with First Street, a major urban corridor. From the heart of downtown, a citizen can look down First Street and see the courthouse and its 80-foot high central atrium on axis with the street. From within, the life of the courthouse looks back at the city through the 100-foot high glass curtain wall facade.