Civic & Cultural

Theodore Roosevelt United States Courthouse

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Brooklyn, New York, USA

753,000 square feet / 70,000 square meters

2006

Visible from the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan, the new U.S. Courthouse redefines the Brooklyn skyline and provides a new landmark for the downtown civic center. Located on Cadman Plaza, near the borough’s historic main post office and adjoined to the original courthouse, the new building is sympathetic to both historic structures while being contemporary in design.

The complex contains an existing 6-story courthouse, a new 14-story courthouse, and a 6-story entry hall. The entry hall ties the two buildings together both functionally and compositionally, providing an easily identified central entrance into the shared lobby. The open, skylit lobby allows both light and air into the heart of the complex.

Light is a recurring theme, extending to the artwork that flanks the entrance. Rising 24 feet above the sidewalk on granite pylons, a pair of sculptures by artist Lisa Scheer depicts abstracted torches. Inside the building, sunlight fills all the public spaces, including elevator lobbies, waiting areas, jury lounges and dining areas. Courtrooms and jury deliberation areas also offer natural light and views.

A combination of limestone, metal, and glass were used for the three elements of the complex. The entry hall is a curved structure of glass and steel, while the two adjacent buildings are primarily limestone. The stone is similar in color to other prominent public building in downtown Brooklyn, while its reflective quality makes the building appear light. These materials form elegant facades that, along with the distinctive curved massing of the upper tower, acknowledge the prominence of the Courthouse.

The building contains courtrooms and judges’ chambers arranged in a collegial layout with a single chambers floor located between two court floors. This layout reduces the size of the floor plate, creating a more tapered building profile. The building also houses a Court of Appeals Library, offices for the district clerk, pretrial, marshals and court reporters, a food service facility and a jury assembly area. There are three levels below grade: one level for the U.S. Marshals Service and two for parking and mechanical spaces.

 

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