Bronx County Hall of Justice

Bronx, N.Y.
Rafael Viñoly Architects

Open curtain wall gives transparency to the judicial process

In designing this courts complex, designers Rafael Viñoly Architects and DMJM Harris paid close attention to the image of the courthouse in society—and the acute meaning it holds in the Bronx. In addition to being mindful of this symbolism, their primary challenge was integrating a massive building into the community. The 775,000-square-foot project consists of 47 court parts for the Supreme and Criminal courts, seven grand jury rooms, as well as offices for the Department of Corrections, the Department of Probation, and the Bronx District Attorney.

Photo © Jeff Goldberg/Esto
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Team photo by Tobias Everke

The architects organized program elements in a linear manner around an open civic space, layering them from public to private. Public circulation faces the open space and is animated by a series of cantilevered stairs that augment the elevator system. Within the courtyard, a two-story freestanding cylindrical building houses the jury assembly room. This volume gives scale to the courtyard and acts as the symbolic and formal focus of the whole project.

The main building’s exterior wall design responds to various functions inside. Its south and west facades screen the private circulation corridors and are designed to allow daylight to penetrate deep into the floor plates. The glazed curtain wall in this area takes the shape of a folded plane, providing shadow, reflection, and physical depth. It also allows for “light shelves” to be placed in the dimension of the folds. These units bounce daylight into the interiors and onto reflective, angled ceiling surfaces; they also shade areas directly adjacent to the glass wall, thus reducing heat gain and solar glare. The architects believe that this facades system gives the building as open and unintimidating appearance—all of its functions remain on public view, providing literal and metaphoric transparency to the judicial process.

Formal name of project:
Bronx County Hall of Justice

Bronx, N.Y.

Gross square footage:
775,000 sq. ft.

Total construction cost:
$275 million

City of New York

Rafael Viñoly Architects
50 Vandam St.
New York, N.Y. 10013
212-924-5060 tel.
212-924-5858 fax

About the people and products behind this project

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