The image of the courthouse in society, particularly in the center of the Bronx was of primary concern in the planning of the building. The project goal was to integrate the 775,000 SF building consisting of 47 court parts for the Supreme and Criminal Court, 7 Grand Jury rooms, space for the Department of Corrections, the Department of Probation, the Bronx District Attorney, contract agencies, and parking for 240 cars within the existing community. Organized in a linear manner around an open civic space the program is layered from public to private, with the public circulation facing the open space and animated by a series of cantilevered stairs that augment the public elevator system. Within the courtyard sets a 2 story freestanding cylindrical building that serves as the jury assembly room, gives scale to the large urban space and is the symbolic as well as formal focus of the project.
The exterior wall design responds to the various functions within and orientations of the building. Its South and West facades screen the private circulation corridors and are designed to allow the penetration of daylight deep into the building. The curtainwall in this area takes the shape of a folded plane; this folded wall provides shadow, reflection, and physical depth. It also allows for “light shelves” to be placed in the dimension of the folds. These light shelves reflect daylight into the space and onto the angled reflective ceiling surfaces; they also shade the spaces directly adjacent to the glass wall, thus reducing heat gain and glare. The aesthetic intent of these elevations is to expresses the building as open and un-intimidating. This is achieved by not concealing the building functions behind a representational face, but by allowing the buildings’ program, structure and circulation to be viewed, providing a literal and metaphoric transparency of the judicial process.