At a cost of $92 million, the 300,000-square-foot Seattle Justice Center is nestled in Seattle’s Civic Center campus and houses both city courts and the Seattle Police Station headquarters. A complicated project with many systems tucked in very tight spaces (and a challenging location due to downtown congestion, busy traffic, a bus line, freeway ramps, and an existing parking facility), the building has been designed with two different sections to distinctly and visually separate the two government tenants: a glass courts and public portion to the south, and a masonry police/office portion on the north. In keeping with the city’s vision that the Civic Center should last more than 100 years, the design of the Seattle Justice Center incorporates high-quality materials in a classically modern style that resists appearing dated.
Of particular note:
The city of Seattle mandated that the new Civic Center campus stand as a model of sustainable building design, and adopted a number of innovative greening strategies – variable-flow chillers in the cooling system; sensors that monitor carbon dioxide levels to control fresh air intake; high-efficiency filters in the facility’s air-handling units, etc. – to achieve a Silver rating from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.
In this regard, the 13-story glass façade is layered and separated by 30 inches of airspace. The airspace creates a thermal buffer that maximizes the amount of daylight, while minimizing heat gain and loss. The effect traps heat in the winter, keeps the building cool in the summer, and will be the first of its kind in Seattle.
Principal roof areas are designated with a “green” roof – a layer of soil over the top of the membrane houses grasses and other plants – and serves as an adjacent landscape for tenants and visitors at the public outdoor terrace. A water-harvesting system collects rainwater that falls on the roof and stores it for later use for plant irrigation and site water features.