The team designing and delivering the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center has delivered the project two months earlier than originally anticipated. Developed by Trammell Crow Company, designed by Fentress Architects and built by Mortenson Construction, all of Denver, the $258-million, 695,767-sq-ft Colorado Judicial Center includes a courthouse and a 12-story office tower, which will become the home of the state’s judicial and legal agencies. A 327-space parking facility was also constructed on the block to the south, adjacent to the History Colorado Center.

Photo Bryan Lopez Colorado Judicial Branch
The iconic LEED-Gold Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center was designed for a 100-year-plus lifespan.

Struggling to meet the growing judicial needs of the people of Colorado and facing the urgent necessity to curb the ever-higher costs of maintaining its previous court building, the Colorado Judicial Dept. engaged the Urban Land Institute in 2005 to help facilitate a solution. The result is the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center, located at 14th and Broadway.
While the previous court building lasted 33 years, the new building has been designed and built to endure a 100-year plus lifespan. The neoclassical Judicial Center anchors the south side of Civic Center Park and is a cornerstone of the Civic Center Park master plan.

The stately location complements other dignified civic and cultural structures that occupy the park, including the Colorado State Capitol, the Denver City and County Building, the Denver Art Museum and the Denver Public Library Central Branch. The glass-domed atrium of the courthouse creates a stunning visual connection to the Colorado State Capitol, linking Colorado’s Judicial, Executive, and Legislative Departments as co-equal branches of government.

Built to support a more efficient state judicial system, the complex consolidates seven judicial and legal agencies that currently lease office space in 10 different Denver locations. The 12-story office tower will house judicial and legal agencies while the courthouse will be home to two courtrooms for the Court of Appeals, a courtroom for the Colorado Supreme Court, the Colorado Supreme Court Library and an educational civics learning center that will feature interactive exhibits showcasing the role of the American justice system.

The Judicial Center will also achieve energy efficiencies and is expected to achieve LEED-Gold certification. Some of its sustainable features include highly efficient elevators and lighting, as well as drought-tolerant landscaping. In addition, 40% of the external building materials from the previous court building have been recycled into the Justice Center, and 78% of construction waste has been diverted from landfills. No General Fund monies were used for construction, and more than 2,000 jobs were created during the design and construction of the project.

As an accessible, welcoming and educational meeting place for the people of Colorado, the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center preserves the state’s heritage for future generations while serving as a symbol of the rule of law and a just society.

The design and construction team credits integrated project delivery and the collaborative team efforts of the architect, construction manager, developer, owner and the state. By using three-dimensional virtual design and construction methods that included a building information model, the team was able to ensure that any conflicts were resolved before field installation.

“We are honored to have participated with the talented team of public and private sector individuals who made this important project a great addition to the State Capitol Complex and honors the legacy of Ralph L. Carr,” said Bill Mosher, senior managing director of Trammell Crow Co.

“The Colorado Justice Center is about more than great design — it’s about civic design that will stand the test of time,” said Fentress Architects’ founder, Curtis Fentress. “It’s a product of collaboration and efficiency between many state agencies and stakeholders.”

“We're excited, but not really surprised, by this result," said Brett Sisco, Mortenson's construction executive on the Justice Center. "When you look back at the meticulous planning and level of collaboration from the owner and design team, down through to the trade contractors, and how it was facilitated by the building information model, it simply proves the value and power of that effort and those modeling tools,” he added.

More state agencies will continue to move into other portions of the complex as they are completed and ready for occupancy, including the attorney general’s office on January 22 and the public defender’s office in mid-March. The complex will be officially dedicated in a formal, public ceremony on May 2.