Architect: H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture
Location: Mississippi, USA
Completion: August 2011
Size: 413,000 square feet
Client: General Services Administration
Photographer: Chris Cooper
The new Federal Courthouse in Jackson, Mississippi brings together nineteen federal agencies in a clearly organized, secure, and modern facility. The design arranges courtrooms, offices, and public spaces around a public, open-air rotunda in offset volumes that respond to the adjacent stream bed of Town Creek. Set on axis with the State Capitol’s Beaux-Arts profile seven blocks to the north, the courthouse’s wings surround the open-air rotunda with a curving enclosure that echoes the capitol’s prominent dome. The courthouse provides a modern counterpoint to the treasured historic public building.
The building’s twelve courtrooms are wrapped in curving walls, daylit by clerestory windows, and revealed to the exterior in extruded glass boxes. The curved shape of the courtrooms is a bold variation inspired by H3’s theater design experience. The shape of the room emphasizes the importance of the jury’s role in court proceedings and ensures that their sightlines and acoustics are clear. The courtrooms include electrical evidence delivery to each juror, two audience monitors, lawyer kiosks with screens, raised floors for flexibility, and adjustable lighting. Virtual reality simulation, conducted at Disney Imagineering’s Virtual Reality Studio, and acoustic mockups were reviewed with the judges to ensure the courtrooms’ optimum function.
The interior spaces are protected from intense direct sunlight by features that reference Jackson’s residential vernacular: variegated sawtooth details on precast façade panels and horizontal glass frit patterns emulate wooden shutters and cast changing patterns of light and shadow as the day progresses. These and other features will help earn the project an anticipated LEED-NC Silver Rating.