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United States Courthouse, Seattle
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Vital Statistics:
Location: Seattle, Washington, USA
Completion Date: 2004
Cost: $200 million
Materials: Concrete, steel
Engineer(s): Skilling, Ward, Magnusson, Barkshire

By the mid-1980s, the judges and jurors in the Federal Courthouse of Seattle, Washington, were desperate for a new building. Their 50-year-old courthouse was so small and cramped that even senior judges had to move out and lease space in other buildings. So in the early 1990s, construction began on the new 23-story Seattle Courthouse, a sprawling 2.7-acre site complete with a reflecting pool, skylights, and a landscaped plaza.

The new courthouse will have two very distinct architectural designs -- one for the courts and one for the police. The section of the building that houses the police department will be clad in stone to reflect a sense of permanence and security. The Municipal Court, on the other hand, will be surrounded with a wall of glass and several thick pillars, creating a sense of openness. Three sides of the new 23-story courtroom tower will be pierced with clear glass, allowing views of all the courtrooms. Natural light will flood through dozens of windows and skylights -- and jurors will be afforded great views of the city.

When completed in 2004, the new 600,000-square-foot Seattle Courthouse will house the U.S. District Court, Western Division of Washington, in addition to various court-related agencies.

Fast Facts:
  • The new courthouse structure is designed to avoid collapse in the event of an explosion.
  • Sod and plants on the roof will trap rainwater, thus keeping it from washing into the sewer system. The water will reduce heat in the summer and act as insulation in the winter.

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