Queens County Criminal Courthouse
Traditionally, American courthouses have been examples of great civic architecture and central to the community, if also somewhat forbidding reminders of the majesty of the law. As times changed, so too did court facilities, tending to become more utilitarian in appearance and responding to the demands of an enormously increased volume of cases and of higher security. On one level, our master plan for the Queens County Criminal Courts and designs for its additions simply consolidate all the county’s criminal justice facilities into one complex. But our far more important goal was civic: to complete the Queens Civic Center; provide state-of-the-art facilities equally appropriate for all the complex’s constituencies; and give physical expression to the principle that justice is for the people.
We began with an exhaustive analysis of the existing courts building and of the site, identifying critical issues to be resolved and opportunities to be seized. Among the building elements to be addressed were new entrances for the public and officers of the court, new sallyports and service entrances, improved internal and more secure circulation, underground utilities, and — since the courthouse would remain operational — careful construction phasing.