Chapter 2: Courthouse Programming
Programming and Design Cost-Control
A facility program that is too rigidly defined does not allow for growth and flexibility.
Since it can take seven years from project initiation to completion, a rigid program
may result in design changes and additional costs. The judiciary allows for growth and
flexibility by providing GSA (prior to the initiation of a PDS) with a detailed ten-year
housing requirement and 30-year summary of space needs for each project.
Typically, GSA designs and constructs courthouses based upon ten-year needs;
however, for court buildings, 30-year needs must also be considered to avoid having to
relocate the courts from a building once it has been constructed. On all prospectus-
level construction projects, GSA must require the design architect to provide a plan for
accommodating the 30-year needs of the court.
A well-designed courthouse includes a flexible strategy for relocation, expansion, and
movement of spaces to address not only the approved program included in the PDS,
but also the facility's 30-year growth requirements. The following three approaches
should be evaluated in the initial design of a court building:
Adjoining Sites. Adjoining sites can be set aside for future expansion in
conjunction with a design that anticipates adding courtrooms, judges'
chambers suites, and ancillary facilities, or of providing larger judiciary-
related office areas.
Convertible Spaces. Judiciary-related offices initially located in the
courthouse can be relocated from the facility to allow expansion of the court.
Vacated spaces can be converted into courtrooms and/or ancillary and
support facilities. Major judiciary-related offices with the least need to be
adjacent to the court include the Probation Office, Pretrial Services Office,
and the U.S. Attorney. In addition, areas housing non-court-related offices
may be converted to court space, or shell space may be constructed and
finished as needed.
Future Expansion. Additional space can be provided within court and
judiciary-related spaces to accommodate future expansion. The amount of
space set aside should be based on growth projections contained in the long-
range facility plan. In most cases, vertical expansion must not be considered
an option because of the noise and other disruptions to court operations.