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Rafael Viñoly Architects PC
DMJM+H Architects and Engineers

Overview: The new Bronx County Hall of Justice, an impressive and highly visible courthouse, is located near Grand Concourse Boulevard and is part of a greater courts complex. This 778,000 square foot building consists of 47 court parts for the Supreme and Criminal Court, plus space for the Department of Corrections, the New York Police Department, the Department of Probation, the Bronx District Attorney, contract agencies, and parking for 240 cars.

Sustainable Features: Daylight is the core of the environmental design concept and the framework for its performance. Courthouses have complex security and circulation systems, which typically result in deep building sections with the primary courtrooms located in the dense center. Here, a narrower linear plan organization resulted from the circulation concept, and the desire to enjoy natural light in the circulation and the courtrooms themselves. Public and private circulation was allowed to run continuously, parallel to the exterior walls. A zone of ancillary spaces – attorney-client conference rooms, witness rooms, jury deliberation and robing rooms – is located in between the high ceiling circulation spaces and the courtrooms. Natural light bounces off the top enclosure of these spaces and illuminates the courtrooms, assisted by the folded plane of the curtain wall, clerestories, light shelves and reflective materials. Glazing of varying transparencies and types maintains views, privacy, acoustics and thermal comfort. The success of this sophisticated concept resulted from scale model simulations of daylight penetrations at various times of the year, comprehensive energy modeling, and on-site testing of full-scale mock-ups.

Other energy conserving goals are achieved with high-performance lighting and air delivery systems. Displacement ventilation in the major spaces provides low velocity air delivery directly at the level of the occupants, to avoid having to heat and cool the large volumes of space above them. Fresh air to the courtrooms and jury rooms is introduced according to occupant demand, using carbon dioxide sensors. Special attention was paid to the site’s landscaping, shading the plaza and responding to the adjacent residential neighbors.

Located in the Bronx, New York. Size: 778,000 gross square feet on a 3.44 acre site. Construction cost of $275,000,000. Building completion June 2006 (Design commenced 1995).

Client Agencies: Office of the Courts Administration; NYC Department of Design & Construction; Dormitory Authority of the State of New York.

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Sustainable Site

Stormwater detained on-site
Permeability increased
Alternate transportation encouraged
Urban Heat Island Effect mitigated
Neighborhood connections reinforced

Increased site permeability, stormwater detention tanks
Light-colored, high-reflectance and low-emissivity roofing
Extensive green roof on parking area
Plaza shaded with trees; light-colored paving used
Native, drought-resistant plants
Located near subways and commuter rail
Bicycle racks and showers
Building’s height and configuration designed to minimize shadows and
enhance public plaza


Water Efficiency

Potable water use reduced in building over 1992 Energy Policy Act
Landscape irrigation uses minimal potable water

Low-flow fixtures, metered faucets
Native drought-resistant plants requiring little or no irrigation



Energy use reduced 27% over a baseline New York Energy Conservation Code (1999)
Annual energy savings $330,200 (1999 rates)
Emissions reduced: NOx - 3,690 pounds, SO2 -10,890 pounds CO2,-
1007 tons
Ozone depletion reduced
Peak power usage reduced

Daylight harvesting for most spaces
Light shelves with reflective surfaces, for daylight penetration
Crenellated, self-shading curtain wall; glass is insulated, low-emissivity, with
fritted glass pattern
Displacement ventilation
High-performance lighting with occupancy controls
Demand-based ventilation for courtrooms and jury deliberation rooms,
controlled by CO2 sensors
Engine driven, gas-fired chiller, variable frequency drives and high efficiency


Material Conservation

Recycled materials used
Local products given preference
Tropical woods conserved

Major materials targeted for recycled content, including flooring, aluminum,
and steel
Courtroom woodwork and furniture utilized non-tropical hardwoods


Healthy Interiors

Daylight maximized to 95% of rooms, including courtrooms
Daylight carefully controlled for comfort, privacy, security
Optimized fresh air quantities
Reduced exposure to toxins, volatile organic compounds, urea formaldehyde

Air intakes located near roof, away from street-level pollutants
Daylighting uses narrow plan organization, insulated glazing, clerestories, light
Glazing with varying levels of transparency, depending on usage
CO2 monitors control fresh air in courtrooms and jury spaces
Specifications for low-emitting paints and other products
Separate ventilation for interior service areas
Expansive glazing, operable windows and occupant controls for thermal


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