Mark Trier, FAIA,
Livingston County Judicial Center | Smithland, Kentucky
When Livingston County decided to invest in a new judicial center, JRA’s experience in creating similar civic architectural landmarks across the Commonwealth made us the clear choice to put that institution knowledge to work in the town of Smithland.
We imagined a new brick and stone justice center as the hub of the county’s new government campus. The building material choices were made to not only express the timeless, civic presence expected of a new government centerpiece, but also to relate comfortably to pedestrians and the smaller neighboring buildings. The front facade of the justice center clearly expresses the hierarchy of the spaces contained within. The entrance tower and cupola, which serve as the new orientation point for the surrounding government campus, tie directly into the central, two-story courtroom and public waiting volume. These two elements draw inspiration from the detailing and proportion of the nearby historic courthouse, subtly reinforcing the relationship of the two buildings as they stand side by side on the new civic quad. The structure is punctuated on either side by porches that provide ramp access to the front entrance, which allows natural light to flood the public hallways and visually lightens the mass of the overall building facade. Admitting daylight into the courtrooms and public spaces was an important objective we achieved by carefully articulating punched openings in the masonry walls, affording the space a natural sense of openness and light.
Despite being a new piece of architecture in the historic landscape of downtown Smithland, Kentucky, the Livingston County Judicial Center pays homage to the traditional, historic designs of the neighboring structures.