United States Federal Courthouse, Springfield
Project Title
United States Federal Courthouse, Springfield
The Federal Courthouse is set on State Street, adjacent to the Cathedral of the Catholic Archdiocese, the Museum Quadrangle, and the Springfield Main Public Library. It forms part of the institutional district of a city rich in history. The courthouse contains four courtrooms and forms a spiral crescent around three heritage trees—a copper beech, a linden, and a black walnut—ranging in age from 200 to 500 years. The First Armory of the United States, established by George Washington, is located along the same main avenue, close to the courthouse site.

A colonnaded entry pavilion facing the visual axis from downtown leads to a curved colonnade, which accommodates a pedestrian promenade and grand stair. The stair ascends to the building’s third and principal public level, where the courtrooms and jury suites are located. A curved gallery with views south and of downtown, and containing public sitting areas, traces the colonnade and the trees and leads to the courtrooms. A separate smaller structure, a parsonage-like annex to the main courthouse, accommodates the judges’ chambers and relates in scale to the existing residential buildings to the north.

The public spaces are formed by a series of layers: a precast-concrete colonnade, a glass screen with minimal framing, a limestone wall with large openings, and an inner wall. This wall, which leads to the courtrooms, features a 200-foot-long mural by the American artist Sol LeWitt, installed as part of the General Services Administration’s Art in Architecture program.

The required security measures for a federal courthouse have been accommodated with minimal visibility and without compromising the sense of openness and transparency appropriate to a civic building that represents justice.

Images on this page: 1 Exterior view; 2 Aerial view of site; 3 Physical model aerial view; 4 Level 3 plan; 5 Axonometric through entry pavilion

Springfield, Massachusetts, United States of America

between 1999 and 2008
Completion Date
Client: U.S. General Services Administration;

Cost: US $57 million;

Size: 15,050 sq m (162,000 sq ft)

Competition: Won

Project Type
Safdie Architects
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