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Inside the Infill: Ralph Carr Colorado Judicial Center (Final)

It’s time to conclude our coverage of the development of the new Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center with this special Inside the Infill post.

The roots of this project go back to the early 2000s. This post from 2007 references a 2005 newspaper article about building a replacement for the undersized and out-of-date Colorado State Judicial Building. This post from early 2010 gives us a first glimpse of the project’s design, and that the new home to the state’s highest courts would be named after Colorado’s heroic governor during WWII, Ralph Carr, who fiercely opposed the internment of Japanese-Americans. Over the past six years, we’ve featured over 20 posts about this project, including the demolition and implosion of the former judicial building that once stood on the site. State court employees have now moved in, and the building opens for business to the public tomorrow. A formal ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held in January, and an official dedication of the building in May.

Let’s wrap things up with some photos of the completed interior. Ryan and I each had a chance last week to tour the new judicial center, so the photos below represent contributions from both of us. There are three courtrooms in the complex: two for the Colorado Court of Appeals (first and third levels) and one for the Colorado Supreme Court (fourth level). Here’s a shot (left) of the entrance to the larger Court of Appeals courtroom on the first floor featuring white marble (from Marble, Colorado), and a photo (right) of the inside of the smaller Court of Appeals courtroom on the third floor, which feels more intimate with lots of rich wood accents:

 

The Supreme Court courtroom on the fourth level of the courthouse portion of the project is stunning. Here are two images. On the left is the bench where the seven justices will sit. On the right, is the glass-domed ceiling that floods the courtroom with natural light:

 

Hints of Colorado symbols and icons are integrated throughout the building’s design. The Colorado flag’s big block “C” is subtly evident as a decorative detail in wood trim found throughout the building (left) and the columbine, our state flower, can been seen (right) in numerous carpet patterns through the building (OK, I really need to polish my shoes!):

 

The most dramatic space in the project is the grand atrium, a voluminous public space topped by a glass rotunda that serves as the central orienting feature to the courthouse. Speaking of Colorado symbols, the floor of the grand atrium features a huge columbine design (left) and, if you stand in the middle of that columbine and look straight up at the rotunda at just the right angle, you see another big Colorado “C” (right):

 

From the upper levels of the courthouse, the view out the glass-walled grand atrium looks directly at the Colorado State Capitol, currently undergoing a major renovation (left). In the courthouse’s main staircase, a dramatic piece of public art celebrates different milestones in Colorado’s history (right):

 

The courthouse includes the Colorado State Law Library, which features a mix of traditional library shelving, public art, and high-tech digital capabilities (left). On the right is a view of the chambers of a Supreme Court justice:

 

On the south side of the block rises the 12-story office tower portion of the project, which houses the Colorado Attorney General’s Office and other legal offices and agencies of the state. Here’s a photo of the main hallway leading from the courthouse to the office tower (left) and the ceiling and public art inside the atrium/reception area of the office tower lobby:

 

The new Ralph Carr Colorado Judicial Center is beautiful on the inside and outside, and it appropriately represents one of the three branches of state government in a dignified and civic manner. Additionally, the new Ralph Carr Colorado Judicial Center offers fantastic views of Downtown Denver! So, here are four bonus photos for your enjoyment. On the left, the view straight north up Broadway, and on the right, the view of the Denver City & County Building and Civic Center Park:

 

Finally, here’s a great view of the Denver Central Public Library and the Denver Art Museum’s Hamilton Building (left), and a sweet shot of the Denver Art Museum’s Ponti tower, the Denver Justice Center, Mile High Stadium, North Table Mountain, and the Rockies beyond (right):

 

Welcome, Ralph Carr Colorado Judicial Center, to Downtown Denver!

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11 Comments

  1. Ryan Dravitz says:

    This has been an amazing project to follow and post about.. As I am very sad that we have to wrap this one up, I’m excited we have an amazing building in return. Awesome final update Ken!

  2. Peter says:

    Great post and well done with the photos. In my opinion this is a really nice looking building both inside and out. Love those views from the upper floors, especially looking up Broadway.

    • Troy says:

      Wow! The interior looks fantastic with great new perspectives on downtown that I haven’t seen before including that Broadway shot. Excuse the pun but the jury’s still out on the exterior for me. Need to take a closer look.

  3. Eric says:

    Any news of possible public tours before security make sit completely inaccessible to the people who paid for it?

    • Ken Schroeppel says:

      I believe in January when they have the ribbon-cutting, there will be a public open house. However, as a public building, the public will be welcome to go it at any time. You may sit in and observe any court in action. You may check out the law library or visit the judicial education center (when it’s complete in April).. And, by the way, the people who “paid for it” are court users. The building was funded through bonds that will be paid back from revenues generated through court-related fees.

  4. UrbanZen says:

    Great looking building. Back in the day, I spent a lot of time in the law library in the old supreme court building. The old building was a bit of a mess, but the one thing I always loved was the glass ceiling that let a ton of light into the subterranean library. Looks like they kept with the same idea. Is the new library also located underground-ish, or is it above ground with just more standard sky lights?

    • Zach says:

      The new law library is located on the ground level. What you see are lights that are designed to look like natural skylights. There is however a row of windows along the side of the library that face Lincoln.

  5. Actually the big ribbon public riboon cutting will be in May, when everything is finally complete and all the agencies have moved in. Justice Sotomayor is scheduled to attend. There is an event for the legislature in January, but I don’t believe that is public.

    As a representative for Mortenson, the builder on this project (full disclosure :-)), I want to congratulate the entire team including the state, Fentress Architects, Trammell Crow and all of the trade partners, consultants and artists who transformed this idea into reality. Though I’m really just a layperson when it comes to design and the technical aspects of construction, after spending nearly 20 years in Denver’s commercial design & development world, I have to believe this project will stand out to me in years to come. Hopefully that will be true for much of the rest of the state’s constiuents.

  6. bryan says:

    This looks really beautiful…cant wait to tour this building!

  7. JR Ronczy says:

    Thanks for the tour of the interior. Say what you will about the exterior, (and many have) it is great to see an interior that reflects the gravity of the affairs conducted within the building. It has often been disappointing to serve on jury in newer rooms and buildings that seemed so transient. Great work by the entire team.

  8. Carl says:

    I still think this is the ugliest building in Denver, with the possible exception of the Beauvallon. It looks like it was designed as a collaboration between Michael Graves and Albert Speer. I don’t know which is worse the pseudo post modern “neo-classical” features or the giant over-scaled high rise attached to the south.