The Franklin County Commissioners challenged the team, a collaboration between RicciGreene Associates, Arquitectonica, and DesignGroup Architects, to create a landmark building that would house the common pleas court: 20 trial courtrooms, 10 magistrate courtrooms, arraignment and ceremonial courtrooms, judges’ chambers and “settlement suites” in order to encourage the resolution of cases without tying up courtrooms, a critical necessity for judges managing 15,000 cases a year.
The visual expression captures all elements of a traditional courthouse, translating them into a design statement for today and tomorrow. The simple form of the building is a direct reflection of the program of uses within. Through ample glass wall systems users can visually understand the building, demystifying how they move through it. The courtrooms are expressed along a main corridor in a manner clearly apparent from outside. The exterior-located elevator core recalls the traditional courthouse clock tower and provides east/west views from the elevator cabs. The horizontal orientation is sympathetic to adjacent historic buildings.
The glass façade contributes to the LEED Gold certification, the first in Ohio, acting as a finely tuned, breathable membrane that increases efficiency and sustainability. Glazed curtain-wall systems with optimized louvers and screens provide sun shading to minimize solar gain and maximize views, allowing daylight to enter. Folding surfaces and planes set up a priority of scale at street level, which then go on to contain the primary function of the project- its courtroom levels. This gesture is the key to identifying prominence on the main street as it strategically redirects to a civic building to the east, unifying the “court square.” High ceilings and an east/west orientation allow maximum light into courtrooms. The public areas are designed to reflect the dignified nature of the courts with durable and easily maintained materials. The project includes a civic plaza, a green lobby canopy, and outdoor public spaces.