Chapter 2: Courthouse Programming
grouping similar functions (e.g., Probation and Pretrial Services Offices) so
that they can share resources
Other space-saving measures include reducing circulation and facility support space.
Circulation space in the courthouse is reduced when spaces are organized vertically
and corridor lengths are minimized. Double-loaded corridors (rooms on both sides of a
hallway) must be provided where practical. Facility support space requirements are
reduced by organizing mechanical and electrical shafts, public elevators, exit stairs,
and public toilets around a central core.
Building volume can be minimized by locating courtrooms, which require greater
floor-to-floor heights than office space, on as few floors as possible. Additionally,
building volume can be reduced by using mezzanine space when grouping low
structural bay spaces (i.e., chambers and support space) around high bay spaces (i.e.,
courtrooms). Unused areas around high bay spaces may also be used for mechanical
space, although maintenance access and acoustical isolation from spaces must be
Space requirements can be minimized by providing contiguous space on a single floor
for Clerk's Office records shelving. Storage for bulk supplies, inactive records,
furniture, and equipment must be located in basement areas, on the same floor as the
loading dock, or in space provided for long-term expansion.
Courthouse construction and operation costs are greatly influenced by the site and
environmental characteristics that define the building's shape, orientation, and exterior
appearance. The size of the site may determine the cost and availability of secured or
public parking and strategies for future expansion. Access to the site and location of
other federal agencies will influence security considerations. Additional expenses may
be incurred for specialized lighting or landscaping to mitigate site conditions.
Generally, a large, flat, square or rectangular site is the most cost-effective shape for
The most cost-effective court building generally has a rectilinear to square footprint
and a ratio of 0.3 to 0.6 exterior wall area to contained space for a five-story building.
Each square foot (square meter) of exterior wall saved is worth
(55). Facilities with low wall area/space ratios also tend to be more efficient
because of reduced circulation requirements, HVAC system costs, and energy