According to the jurors of the 2016 General Services Administration (GSA) Design Awards, “the Lloyd D. George US Courthouse (designed by the Yazdani Studio of CannonDesign) is a milestone in the recent history of design – both repositioning GSA as a champion of contemporary architecture and shifting architects’ mindset about what was possible in judicial building.”
It’s likely one of several reasons the jurors selected the courthouse as a recipient of their prestigious GSA 10-Year Design Award, an honor reserved for signature federal projects that are proving themselves extremely meaningful and timeless. The awards were announced Sept. 8 in the Amphitheater of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC and jurors lauded the project for “the transformation of the design professions and its strengthening of civic life in Las Vegas.” The courthouse had previously received a 2003 GSA Citation for Design Excellence.
The GSA had made the full awards booklet from the ceremony available online. As the awards program describes, “the 437,000 sf courthouse, which is home to the United States District Court for the District of Nevada, was completed on the edge of downtown Las Vegas in June 2000. Its distance from the city’s famous strip is psychic as much as physical, as the project team eschewed historical tropes for a radical reinterpretation of the American courthouse. In particular, the 8-story building substitutes the traditional colonnade with an enormous steel-and-aluminum canopy supported by a single, 175-foot-tall column: The gesture broadcasts the permanence of justice, while shading a raised plaza that also reinvents the processional staircase.
Important exteriors are expressed outside the courthouse, as well. The rotunda is a freestanding limestone cylinder whose cable truss-supported glass dome measures 60 feet in diameter, and the jury assembly room is a separate plaza-level volume. In addition to possessing a formal originality that continues to inspire architects, jurors, remarked that the George courthouse has increasingly benefitted the public over time, effortlessly hosting school groups and city events and providing space for gathering and protest as an alternative to the commercial grounds of The Strip.”
Per the Yazdani Studio of CannonDesign award submission, the purpose behind the design of the courthouse was to provide a visual testimony to the dignity, enterprise, vigor and stability of the American government. The facility houses six district courts, four magistrate courts, attorney conference rooms, clerk of the US courts offices, judicial chambers, etc. and was the first federal building built according to new security criteria issued by the GSA after the 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City. Accommodating all of this, the courthouse is civic in nature and create a true public space for the City of Las Vegas.