Franklin County Common Pleas Courthouse

  • Architects: DesignGroup, Columbus; Arquitectonica, New York City, RicciGreene Associates, Lexington
  • 2012
  • 369 South High Street

The formal expression of the new Franklin County Courthouse distills elements of a traditional courthouse into a legible contemporary form.  Through extensive south-facing exterior glass the public can read the building’s internal workings. The repetitive courtroom blocks are visible along a main circulation spine in a manner clearly apparent from outside the structure.  The massive elevator core recalls the traditional courthouse clock tower but provides multiple interior and exterior vantage points from elevator cabs and connecting bridges. The horizontal emphasis of the building mass is sympathetic to the scale of historic buildings across High Street and mediates the scale transition to buildings across Mound Street. The iconic building form reflects its role as an important civic structure in the heart of the Columbus community.

The new courthouse is connected to the existing government center by a multi-compartment tunnel system providing access to the general public, court staff, and a secure passage for detainees housed in the adjacent county jail facility.  The New Courthouse is sited to complete the four-cornered “courthouse square” concept, along with the Franklin County Government Center is immediately to the south across Mound Street.  The remaining site area immediately north of New Courthouse is designed as an open green space, providing land for future mixed-use development by the County.  The site design creates a welcoming, vegetated refuge for pedestrians, families and visitors.

A Rain Garden at the corner of Mound and Front Streets is a sculpted landform framed by flowering trees with a recessed lawn panel and a stone pediment for use as an informal stage.  A 200,000 gallon subsurface storage system beneath the Rain Garden harvests rainwater for landscape irrigation use.

The New Courthouse is Gold level certified as a high-performing, sustainable building through the US Green Building Council’s LEED program.