In keeping with the rich tradition of American courthouse squares and plazas the new Superior Court in Hollister, California provides the city’s first major civic space. This 41,000 square-foot plaza is a focal point for civic and community life and expresses the project's overall vision of the openness of a democratic judicial system.
The City of Hollister is located in an agricultural valley comprised of linear fields and gridded orchards. Similarly, the architecture of the new courthouse is also a linear and gridded composition. This parallel presented a compelling approach to integrating the building into its context. This evolved into a composition of four spaces united by a linear paving pattern. These include a civic plaza, a lawn, a linear garden, and a bosque of cherry trees. Vernacular materials such as galvanized steel planters and decomposed granite were used to further integrate the project with the local context.
Sustainable strategies include directing over 90% of stormwater to rain gardens and using a combination of large shade trees and reflective surfaces to reduce the heat-island effect. As drought is a pressing issue in California, the lawn area was minimized, a water-efficient irrigation system was specified, and the majority of the plantings are native or drought-tolerant. In order to encourage alternate means of transportation, the project includes racks for thirty bicycles and six preferred parking spaces for low-emittance vehicles. These strategies helped the project achieve LEED Silver Certification.
The project was featured in LANDZINE, the international journal of landscape architecture, and in BD+C Magazine, and earned an AIA Justice Citation Award..
Photo Credits: Bruce Damonte