A courthouse that promotes openness

The Bronx County Hall of Justice in New York has finally been completed and opened early this year. The design by Rafael Viñoly Architects, that took 15 years to be fulfilled, is trying to signify the openness of the judicial system by implementing transparent material.

The 72 000-square-meter-project houses 47 courtrooms, seven grand jury rooms, offices and underground parking. The L-shaped structure also includes an ample public courtyard that tries to tie the courthouse to a low- and mid-rise community of schools, residences and commercial activity. A translucent accordion curtain wall with ceramic frit ensures naturally lit interiors. Additionally, the curtain wall, the loading docks as well as the mailing room are all blast resistant. 
Besides all these security measures, the building is trying to promote openness and transparency to the judicial process, in a both literal and metaphorical way. The vast supply with natural light, high-performance insulated glass, special heating and air conditioning systems, all make the building serve its community as well as the environment.
Referring to the project’s completion, the architect Rafael Viñoly observed:
“The long-awaited opening of the Bronx County Hall of Justice, almost fifteen
years after the design was produced, speaks about the endurance of the ideas that guided its development: the manifestation of the inherent transparency of the legal process, the provision of public accessibility that positively contributes to the urban conditions of its setting, and the achievement of the environmental performance that is required of any building of this scale. It is refreshing for me to see that the architecture that grew from these principles hasn’t lost its permanence.”
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