Constructing Justice

Today’s Bloomberg News has a stimulating review by their architecture critic of Rafael Viñoly’s new Bronx County Hall of Justice.

The space is extremely interesting – images are here, and then navigate to Projects and Government. We don’t think of courthouses as open and inviting, or slimly elegant, but as the reviewer describes it:

Historically, architects expressed judicial power by building massive neoclassical temples decorated with inspirational quotations and noble statuary. The results were often fortresses that intimidated the innocent and the guilty alike.

By contrast, Vinoly imaginatively mixes dignity and welcome, even in a two-block-long, nine-story structure that leaps over a side street. The serrated facade does much to lighten the mood. Since the building is thin, its bridging of Sheridan Avenue is inviting rather than gloomy.

Recent court houses in the US have been major departures from traditional design conventions – see the Islip Court House and the spectacular court house in Eugene Oregon.

The BC Courthouse in Vancouver is now 20 years old, and while it is one of Arthur Erickson’s most distinctive buildings, it isn’t exactly inviting. What other court houses have Slaw readers noticed?

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