Ralph Carr Judicial Center Update #11

While riding the bus on my way home last night, I was thinking to myself: what really makes a city shine at night and what can Denver do to achieve this? One huge step in the right direction is lighting. Whenever there’s a newscast, sporting event, or special story on a city, the camera will always focus on well lit buildings. Nobody likes the look of dark boxes. My point? The new Ralph Carr Judicial Center is doing everything right. The lighting couldn’t be more perfect.

When Ken and I did the Inside the Infill tour over a year ago, I was told a secret I had to hold until it was visible to the public eye. “The lighting will make you stop in your tracks,” I was told. And sure enough, it did. (I haven’t enhanced these photos in any way. They are as close to the naked eye as I could get.)


The fences were recently taken down so its street presence is much more prominent, not to mention you can now get up close and personal to it.

The four main columns on the office tower are illuminated providing a great accent between the top and bottom.

Here is the 4-story court house. The city and county building will compliment Ralph Carr Judicial Center nicely when all the holiday decorations are up.

Given the lighting was not in the original renderings, I am very pleased on how well they fit this in. What do you think of the lighting feature?

By | 2016-12-18T11:41:30+00:00 November 22, 2012|Categories: Civic Center, Government & Civic, Infill, Office, Urbanism|Tags: |15 Comments


  1. Django November 22, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    The arbiters of good taste in town have really been raggin on this project but even they would probably agree they did a terrific job on the lighting.It would make downtown a cooler place if more buildings were lit up at night although we are starting to see more of this.

    • TakeFive November 23, 2012 at 5:23 am

      Interesting…. I love the project. The lit bands seem a bit much to me. Still prefer the ‘old’ less ‘bright white’ look. But overall I like it and perhaps from a few blocks away I’d get a different sense of the look.

  2. TakeFive November 23, 2012 at 5:26 am

    Ryan… Nice work (as always).

  3. Dan November 23, 2012 at 9:23 am

    Will the owners (taxpayers) get a chance to tour their building before it opens for business?

  4. Eric November 23, 2012 at 11:47 am

    I agree with the “arbiters of good taste” – the building itself is too simple, especially that over sized south wall with too many, too-plain punched windows. The lighting helps immeasurably. I also walked by this building after dark last weekend and was enticed to walk up to it. It looks like we spent money well on the inside if not outside.

  5. Larry November 23, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    I’m no arbiter, but I know an under achiever when I see it. It’s a good thing Ryan took the pictures at night. They are great photos and the lighting job is not so bad. It hides the true mediocrity of that building.

  6. Brendan November 23, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    I think this is a great looking building, even during the day. A bit surprised to see so many say otherwise. I wish we saw more development like this in the surrounding area.

    • Dan December 1, 2012 at 7:09 pm

      I agree. I am very pleased with the outcome. My only objection is the cost and timing – it would have been more appropriate to do in a better economy and when public debt was not as controversial as today. I am happy that since we decided to do this, it is a good design and is durable, efficient and substantial. While I like the Webb building also, I understand it is an embarrassment from an energy consumption point of view.

  7. Chad Reischl November 25, 2012 at 6:04 am

    Looks a bit Las Vegas-esque to me

  8. Stosh November 25, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    What a HUGE improvement over the previous building on the site! The “The arbiters of good taste” are wrong as usual. This building achieves quiet exuberance, with a nod to both the historic and contemporary buildings surrounding it. Lighting is everything and this building has it in spades. I can’t wait to see it with the interior lights on as well. Vegas should be so lucky.

  9. Julio November 25, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    I agree with Stosh…I think this is a big improvement over the buildings that were there previously. The courthouse and History Colorado Center before were very odd buildings..a big “n” and a triangular staircase basically. Both buildings felt very slight and small within the block, and architecturally were kind of random and not really fitting with the area. This new courthouse definitely feels big and urban. It has a nice density that is appropriate for the area and it fits in architecturally with the other buildings in the area. The columns, domes, etc. provide a nice neo-neoclassical relation to the Capitol and the City and County Building. And the slight post-modernism relates to the very post-modern Central Library across the street.

    I do wish they used slightly better materials..seems like a lot of is pre-cast concrete, and I do agree that the windows on the south end tower are slight and non-interesting. But I like the shapes and the general aesthetic of the building. And it really does gravitate the pedestrian towards the building. It has some definite street-appeal especially, as we’ve seen, at night.

  10. GP November 27, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    This building could not be uglier. These pictures are the most flattering images you could post. The fact is the building looks like it was built in 1990, dated before it opened.

    What makes it look even worse is that fact that it is directly adjacent to the new Colorado history museum. It’s a great snapshot of good architecture vs. bad in one frame.

  11. Freddie November 27, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    I normally jump right on the building-bashing bandwagon every time an aesthetically controversial building gets built (the new crime lab and the Tetris Building are simply atrocious) but I really don’t get what’s so unappealing about this building. It looks classy. Sharp. I like it!

    A lot of times, especially in Denver, attempts at neoclassical design completely fail and end up looking tacky (those three cheaply-built, Golden Triangle towers built in the 90’s by that one guy come to mind…Prado, Prado Jr. and The Prado Twins…or whatever they’re called) but Ralph Carr looks sharp. I guess beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.

  12. Jordan December 3, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    Hey guys, I’ve been a follower of your blog for a few years and I’m also a court employee about to move into the Carr Judicial Center in a couple of weeks. I was reading a press release we put out about the move today, and at the bottom it mentions there will be a media tour on 12/11. Just thought I’d let you know in case you were interested in seeing the inside – it is pretty beautiful. Thanks for all the interesting posts!

    Press release here: http://www.courts.state.co.us/Media/Press_Docs/Courts%20SCAO%20move%20PR%20FINAL%20Dec%203.pdf

    • Ryan Dravitz December 3, 2012 at 9:31 pm

      Hey Jordan,
      I received an email today from a contact I have with Mortenson about the media tour as well . I am going to try my best to be there! Thanks for the heads up as well!

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