Douglas County Courthouse
For the first time in Douglas County’s 127-year history, the court facilities and the county administrative offices are located in a single facility. The 225,580 square foot county courthouse unifies and separates the judicial and county administrative spaces by a 40-foot diameter rotunda that forms the center of the building. The siting of the building provides three public entrances on two different levels. All public entrances are defined by projecting arms of the buildings named for the different attributes of democracy: honor, truth and liberty. The building uses are effectively zoned so that secure court functions are removed from public access and administrative functions are readily accessible. The zoning allows easy and direct access to the public departments. Since both the Judicial and County Administrative Offices are included in the project, the design approach centered upon balancing of the programmatic needs and metaphorical messages of each separate component. The resulting building organization and articulation is a direct response to the separate requirements. The judiciary required security and control; the administration required openness and convenience. The building is executed in the classical tradition. Drawing upon the County’s agrarian past, the Doric order was used as the proportioning system throughout the project. All architectural elements were devised using these coordinated proportions. The primary space is topped with a dome and cupola that represents the aspirations of the county and the unity of justice and its citizens. Housed within the cupola is a high powered metal halide light fixture that is always on representing the beacon of justice. After a decade of service, the courthouse remains an enduring symbol of the county’s aspirations. As such, the community and the building’s occupants take great pride in its care and use. In 2009, the Douglas County Courthouse was nominated by its staff and received the annual Award for Best Government Building by BOMA and received the Energy Star Rating from the EPA for efficiency of energy consumption. These awards, long after occupancy and long before sustainability, were a focal point of development to the insight and thoughtfulness of the design team.