U.S. Courthouse, BuffaloBuffalo, NY, USA U.S. General Services Administration Government, Interiors 268,000 ft2 / 25,000 m2 Gold AIA New York State Citation for Design (2012); GSA Design Awards On the Boards Citation (2004)
Located on historic Niagara Square in downtown Buffalo, the design of the new U.S. Courthouse balances internal program demands with external influences such as site and context, achieved through an elliptical form that maximizes building efficiencies and presents a stunning new image for the courts system. With a desire to express the dignity of the Federal Judiciary and the transparency of the courts system, the entire structure is wrapped in a fritted glass exterior wall suspended in front of the pre-cast structure, reinforcing the inherent grace of the building’s unique shape with an expression of lightness.
The building’s elliptical form encloses program spaces with maximum efficiency and minimum surface area, thus reducing the amount of construction materials required and helping to meet the project’s limited budget. The typical floor plan accommodates two sets of district courtrooms, judges’ chambers and jury deliberation suites with separate public, restricted, and secure circulation systems. The curved public lobbies at the courts’ floors orient toward Niagara Square while the transparent curtain wall reveals the activity within.
The glass entry pavilion expresses the street wall along the perimeter of the square and creates a courtyard interlocked with the tower form. The elevator tower with glowing lantern firmly anchors the composition to the site, and within the great tradition of civic form, marks the urban context at both ground and sky.
Additional factors of blast control, sustainability, cost and security requirements substantially influenced the development of the parti and form. Spanning slab to slab, the ribbed pre-cast enclosure of the ellipse meets exterior wall blast requirements with minimum cost.