U.S. Courts Design Guide
Other architectural considerations for cost-effective courthouses include the following:
Spaces are sized so that the most efficient structural spans can be used.
Heavy live load areas such as libraries and file storage are grouped around
core areas where structural strengthening can be provided economically.
Non-square angles and rounded areas, which are expensive in both steel and
concrete structures and have been proven to waste space, are avoided as
much as possible. Also, areas with non-square angles require custom-designed
furniture, resulting in additional cost.
Windows and glazed areas are sized appropriately. Glazing costs are higher
in judicial facilities because of security requirements, particularly on the
Exterior wall detailing is simplified, especially on upper floors. This allows
the use of better materials on lower floors where they can be appreciated.
Skylights are used sparingly. Skylights are expensive to install, increase
HVAC costs, and can cause maintenance problems. Windows, borrowed
light, and clerestories can provide natural light at lower initial and life-cycle
Both main and backup engineering systems are essential in a properly-functioning
courthouse. The systems must have the flexibility to adapt to changes in space
utilization. Excess capacity must only be provided to accommodate anticipated
growth. Because backup systems and excess capacity increase construction and
building operation costs, the increased costs must be justified by anticipated future
savings and improved court administration.
Acoustical criteria for privacy and confidentiality increase the gross building area and
wall construction costs of a courthouse. Full-height, interior partitions and sound
insulation design details must be used only where necessary. Full-height, slab-to-slab,
sound-insulated, interior walls cost per square foot ( per square meter)
more than floor-to-ceiling walls. The recommended sound isolation criteria for
specific spaces are stated in the Guide in the appropriate chapters.