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Vegas Courthouse, AK Youth Facility Accept AIA Awards

Wed September 24, 2003 - Northeast Edition

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on Architecture for Justice (CAJ) recently announced 20 projects selected for publication in its 2003-2004 “Justice Facilities Review.”

Two of projects were awarded special citations for demonstrating architectural and design excellence: The Lloyd D. George U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building in Las Vegas, NV, by Cannon Design, and Ketchikan Regional Youth RDT Facility in Ketchikan, AK, by ECI/Hyer Inc. These projects and their architects were honored at the second annual Congress on Infrastructure Security for the Built Environment (ISBE) Sept. 16 to 18, in Washington, D.C., in tandem with the CAJ fall conference.

The Lloyd D. George U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building is a 437,000-sq.-ft., $95-million courthouse that revolves around an L-shaped floor plate. The public lobby features a three-story rotunda with glazed roof, accessed through a secured entry. An enormous canopy frames the entry plaza as a grand civic space and is supported by a monumentally scaled steel column.

“The courthouse creates a symbolic corner within downtown Las Vegas, with the open side of the L embracing the city and protecting the entry plaza from the southern sun and prevailing winds.

“In addition to symbolizing a federal presence in the city, the building responds to its urban surroundings, establishing a design precedent for large-scale public buildings in Las Vegas. The giant articulated column is a powerful totem that will no doubt become the courthouse’s signature in a city of signs and symbols. It is surprising to find such urbanity and elegant restraint in Las Vegas,” commented the selection jury.

The U.S. General Services Administration already has recognized the courthouse with its Honor Award for Architecture, the highest honor for a building by the government.

The Ketchikan Regional Youth RDT Facility, a correctional facility, provides both secure detention for juvenile offenders and a program for youth with mental health issues. The design allows these two populations to be separated while still benefiting from the multi-use spaces.

The facility’s program is centered on four youth-detention and four mental-health single-occupancy beds, with two swing cells available to both populations for flexibility.

To meet the requirement of sight and sound separation between populations while maintaining an efficient, open plan, the design connects a centralized workstation to two independent living wings.

The site offers views of a nearby creek as well as challenging topographic conditions. Consequently, the building is supported on a foundation of steel pilings up to 60 ft. long. Traditional Alaskan Native American exterior paint colors, sloping roof forms with long eave projections, and covered entryways complete a building envelope intended to harmonize with its surroundings.

“The Ketchikan facility is a good example of a facility that can be designed to meet the multiple needs of youth in smaller, more rural communities,” commented the jury.

In addition to the two citation winners, the jury honored the following 20 submissions:

• Alameda County Juvenile Center, Dublin, CA, by MVE/Rosser International Inc. and McLarand Vasquez Emsiek & Partners Inc.;

• Blue Ridge Juvenile Detention Center, Aurora, CO, by KMD Associates Contra Costa Juvenile Hall, Martinez, CA, by KMD Architects;

• Delaware State Police Building, Glasgow, DE, by Tetra Tech Inc.;

• Greensboro Public Safety Center, Greensboro, NC, by J Hyatt Hammond/Kaestle Boos Associates;

• Houston Emergency Center, Houston, TX, by PGAL Hudson County Correctional Center and Ridge View Youth Services, Kearny, NJ, by KMD Architects;

• Judge Romae T. Powell Juvenile Justice Center and Mechanicsville Branch Library, Atlanta, GA, by Facilities Design Group Inc.;

• Kent County Courthouse, Grand Rapids, MI, by Tower Pinkster Titus Associates;

• Lyon County Courthouse, Emporia, KS, by Treanor Architects PA;

• Modesto Police Headquarters, Modesto, CA, by Beverly Prior Architects;

• Montgomery County Correctional Facility, Clarksburg, MD, by HOK/DC;

• Paso Robles Superior Court, Paso Robles, CA, by KMD Architects;

• Porter County Jail, Valparaiso, IN, by Schenkl Shultz;

• Reno Municipal Courthouse, Reno, NV, by Tate Snyder Kimsey;

• Sauk County Law Enforcement Center, Baraboo, WI, by DLR Group;

• State of Georgia Juvenile Center, Gainesville, GA, by Patrick Sullivan Associates;

• Stevenson House Juvenile Detention Center, Milford, DE, by Tetra Tech Inc.;

• Valley Emergency Communication Center, West Valley City, UT, by James R. Child Associates; and

• Yuma County Juvenile Justice Center, Yuma, AZ, by DLR Group.

The “Justice Facilities Review” serves as an indicator of the proven strategies and latest trends that are being used in the design and construction of justice facilities all over the country.

The selection process is conducted by a jury that is responsible for choosing projects for inclusion that demonstrate a quality of form, as well as functional and current architectural responses to complex justice design issues.

For more information, visit