Planning Considerations

Courthouses are unique and complex buildings and as such, require greater than normal attention to planning, design, and construction. Unique characteristics differentiate them from commercial office buildings or government administration buildings. Among the characteristics that should be analyzed during planning, design, and construction are functional considerations, appropriate image and design, site selection, special access needs of the physically impaired, security, flexibility, and the effect of technology.

Every design represents a compromise among conflicting choices. Ideally, a courthouse should convey an appropriate sense of dignity and decorum, accommodate both short- and long-term space needs, and contribute to the effective administration of justice by providing physical facilities that are appropriate for current practices, as well as being able to accommodate changes in procedures, operations, and policies. Appropriate analysis and integration of these characteristics will greatly enhance court operations, enable the court to function symbolically, and help the court become a practical resource for the community.

Each unique courthouse functional space and courtroom components should be designed to address the following nine planning and design considerations: