The John M. Roll U.S. Courthouse sustainably reinterprets and updates the classical American courthouse for the community of Yuma, Arizona. The building, which is targeting LEED Gold certification, was awarded through a design-build competition sponsored by the General Services Administration (GSA) Design Excellence Program. Judge Roll, Arizona's chief federal judge who was killed in the 2011 shooting that wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, had been a strong advocate of the project.
Designed to accommodate the large and growing caseload of immigration detainees along the Arizona-Mexican border, the Courthouse delivers streamlined, secure handling of mass defendants. The 60,000 square foot building houses two courtrooms, judges' chambers, jury rooms, U.S. Marshals facilities and district court and bankruptcy court services.
Located near the city's Main Street on a 2.83 acre site, the Courthouse also offers an outdoor civic space to the people of Yuma. Familiar classical elements of entablature, colonnade and portico have been adapted to the harsh desert climate utilizing 21st-century durable materials and technologies. A welcoming "front porch" at the entrance is formed by an expansive photovoltaic canopy, held up by naturally weathered steel columns, which generates more than 20% of the building's energy load. The entry procession includes weathered steel bridges spanning a landscaped arroyo (also functioning as a water-retention basin), a stone plinth and a series of staggered stone site walls.
The principal façade is composed of flanking sandstone masses inset with a double-height glass lobby. The juxtaposition of stone and glass contrasts a magisterial sense of permanence with lightness and transparency, conveying the balance of precedent and openness in the justice system. The east and west faces of the building are shaded by a "living wall"—a weathered steel trellis structure supporting vines that provide dappled, controlled sunlight to the perimeter spaces inside.