U.S. Courts Design Guide
The Guide contains state-of-the-art design criteria for courthouses. Users should
read all introductory text carefully to understand the scope, function, and intent of
the guidelines presented, and their relationship to the design process.
Circuit Judicial Councils
Circuit judicial councils play an important space management role by reviewing
district-wide long range facility plans, approving subsequent requests for new or
modified space, and enforcing adherence to design guidelines. As directed by the
Judicial Conference of the United States, any significant departures from design
criteria contained in the Guide must be approved by the appropriate circuit
judicial council. Documentation of approved departures are then submitted to
Programming and budgetary notes, found throughout the Guide, provide
assistance with decisions made during the development of courthouse projects. The
notes include both judicial branch policy and lessons learned from completed
projects. The notes supplement the criteria in the Guide; their purpose is to
provide direction for using the flexibility of the Guide to develop justifiable and
cost-effective federal courthouse projects.
The Guide is both a design and financial commitment document. The Judicial
Conference's space rental budget correlates to the design standards contained in
the Guide. Departures from the Guide often result in over-budget construction
and increased rental costs and are, therefore, discouraged.
Architectural Programming Considerations
The Guide lists and describes all major spaces and spatial groupings contained in
federal courthouses. The number of major space groupings required for a
particular court building should be determined at the programming stage.
Individual project circumstances dictate which of the major space groupings
should be included in a building program.