Gresham, Smith and Partners proudly joined project partners for the grand opening of the Rutherford County Judicial Center (RCJC) in Murfreesboro, Tenn., on April 25. The event included remarks from judicial center leaders and public officials, and invited community members to tour the new facility. Located just two blocks north of the historic downtown square, the 203,000-square-foot project includes a courthouse building and off-site parking garage occupying two adjacent sites on Maple Street. Public engagement and community outreach played a central role in the design process.
“We were privileged to use our courthouse design experience on this new center for Rutherford County,” commented Steve Johnson, AIA, executive vice president at Gresham, Smith and Partners. “Secure design was the first priority for the facility, which features zonal planning to separate judicial officials, defendants and the public as they circulate throughout the building. Replacing an overcrowded judicial center and expanding the courts’ current capacity, the RCJC was created to support the county through its next 30 years of growth. We believe this facility will be a driver for future development in Murfreesboro, setting a precedent for projects of a larger scale in the historic downtown area.”
“GS&P’s design team collaborated seamlessly with our staff to understand the functional requirements of the space, working hard to optimize security and circulation,” said Mayor Ernest Burgess. “But just as importantly, they listened to Murfreesboro residents who were very interested in linking the judicial center to the fabric of the community. The facility embraces its surroundings and offers a much-needed public space in downtown, perfect for lunch breaks and community gatherings. It’s a new icon for our city and we are honored to call it home.”
The six-story building houses 12 individual courtrooms, with additional capacity to grow to 16 courtrooms. An entrance pavilion embedded with a terraced public plaza serves as a counterpoint to the Civic Plaza at the southern end of Maple Street. A vaulted ceiling extends the central form of the exterior and embraces a traditional color found in the domed ceiling of the nearby City Hall. Clerestory windows provide ample daylight and accentuate the transition from security into a double-height central lobby accented by vaulted ceilings and red-brick masonry piers that also complement the building’s exterior aesthetic. Reducing the load on public elevators, a monumental stair links the lobby to the high-volume courtrooms and clerks’ offices on the first two floors.
GS&P has long history in Rutherford County, having designed the Schwan Cosmetics USA Corporate & Production Headquarters and other work that includes Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital and the DePaul and Seton Medical Office Buildings.