United States Courthouse, Phoenix

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United States Courthouse, Phoenix
United States Courthouse
Phoenix, Arizona

The courthouse, irrespective of its size and constituency, has always been the one building type that has sustained the communal and public values of the US Constitution. Traditionally located in the center of the city, it represented all three branches of government while remaining the one monument and public space to which citizens gravitated. Despite today's sophisticated technology, it is still necessary to maintain the appropriate physical relationship between judge, jury, and spectators. Light plays a critical symbolic role in the reading of this structure, which is enlightened by reason during the day and by the equally radial glow of artificial light at night.

The main public space, a 350- X 150-foot covered atrium, is orientated toward the city center and situated on an axis with the state capitol some five blocks to the west. The atrium is furnished with shade trees, pools and fountains, and extends on its eastern

and western ends into paved plazas. These areas serve as transitional zones between the harsh desert climate and the atrium itself, which is cooled by evaporation and natural convection. Hot air escapes through vents in the roof, drawing fresh air across the atrium, where it is cooled by water from a misting system before dropping to the floor.

Eighteen district courtrooms and four magistrate courts occupy the top four floors of the building. This functional arrangement is complemented by a three-story, cylindrical special proceeding courtroom situated at podium-level, a symbolic space that serves as the focus of the atrium. Glazed throughout in shaded clear glass and ceramic fritted low-E glass, the hi-tech character of the atrium stems from its trussed tubular-steel roof structure, which is carried on steel columns integrated with the louvered fenestration of the north and east elevations.


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