The rule of law and courthouses are the cornerstone of our democracy. The National Center for State Courts has recently published the third edition of Retrospective of Courthouse Design 2001-2010, describing noteworthy federal and state projects across the country and a few from overseas. 96 projects are published in the volume, 94 are courthouses, plus a judicial training center in New York and a statewide IT center for the Arizona Supreme Court - I am jealous. There are some beautiful and highly functional facilities featured, including the Ohio Judicial Center in my home town, Columbus, which I have heard is fabulous from several people, and the Brooklyn Supreme and Family Courthouse, which is notable as a public-private partnership with 180,000 square feet of speculative office space included.
In an introductory article, my friend Marcus W. Reinkensmeyer makes a point that I have been wondering about lately. He contrasts the emergence of the virtual courthouse - the rapid evolution of 24/7 access to case information and court services in many places - with the need for physical facilities where humans can come together, concluding: "Courts mus plan and budget for not only a large investment in sustainable and scalable technology infrastructure to support remote court services, but physical justice centers that are co-located with trial courts for one-stop resolution of stakeholder-intensive cases (e.g., family, juvenile, criminal, and mental health cases.)"