Harris County Jury Plaza

Houston, TX

Project Description

A glass pavilion sitting on top of a downtown Houston green space serves as the entry to a new underground jury assembly space for Harris County, Texas. The 33,500-square-foot Jury Plaza is the centerpiece for the recently consolidated Harris County Courts complex. Located in the center of a nine-square-block campus, the facility is the initial point of contact for jurors serving five courthouse/judicial facilities. Four underground assembly rooms – each of which accommodates 250 people–feed civil, criminal, juvenile and family courts via secure pedestrian tunnels.
The building is 85% below-grade; the client wanted a facility that didn’t compete with the surrounding buildings—a simple “door in the ground.” The client also wanted it to be open and full of light, bringing daylight into the lower levels of the facility. Despite the underground nature of the facility, the glass pavilion creates a dramatic sense of openness so lobbies on both levels are full of light. The County also wanted to provide a comfortable, convenient and welcoming space for prospective jurors, without being opulent or frivolous. The assembly rooms are spacious and feature stadium-style theater seating, and the building offers a coffee shop where jurors can grab a snack and even plug in cell phones and laptops at recharging stations. Security meets functional needs but is efficient and does not detract from the sense of arrival.

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Awards

Houston Business Journal Landmark Award – Public Assembly
Society for American Registered Architects Merit Award

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