Staten Island’s first new courthouse in more than 75 years, and the City’s first green courthouse, is rising in the St. George section of the borough.
The $174 million project is transforming a four-acre surface parking lot and the former site of a 19th century Marine Hospital Quarantine Grounds into a civic center comprised of the courthouse, a public park memorializing the hospital’s former burial grounds and a 600-car parking garage.
The five-story, 182,000-sq-ft facility will house the New York State Supreme Court and the Richmond County Criminal courts, consolidating outdated court facilities now spread across four locations.
The Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) is overseeing construction of the project designed by Ennead Architects, New York, to attain LEED Silver certification. Jacobs Engineering, New York, is the project’s Construction Manager.
Program space includes 11 supreme court and three criminal court rooms, five hearing rooms, jury assembly and deliberation rooms, judges’ chambers and court offices.
To minimize the impact of losing the parking lot, the parking garage was completed before work started on the courthouse. Courthouse construction is slated for completion in January 2013.
From 1799 to 1858 the site was home to the New York Marine Hospital, a quarantine hospital treating ill immigrants taken from ships entering NY Harbor. Neighbors of the hospital repeatedly appealed to the authorities to close the facility, complaining of terrible odors and residents falling ill. In 1858 citizens took matters into their own hands, burning the buildings to the ground after removing all the patients.
The history of the site came to light during a 2000 environmental review when an 1843 map was discovered showing the hospital and two cemeteries, one at the northern end of the property. An archaeological survey conducted in 2006 found human remains in the site’s northern corner.
A memorial park, constructed as part of the project, will cover the area cemetery. Skeletal remains removed during the archeological survey will be reinterred in the cemetery at the completion of construction.
Ennead’s goal is to create an energy efficient courthouse that will become an architectural icon for the county, State and St. George.
The steel framed structure is designed with four “towers of justice” representing equality under the law. The towers serve as a contemporary interpretation of the iconic capitals of the early 20th-century Richmond County Courthouse situated two blocks to the northeast.
On the eastern side of the structure the copper clad towers sit behind a glass curtainwall that front the primary public corridors. The transparent glass allows sunlight to stream into the public areas, provides views of the City and harbor area and reveals the layout of the structure.
“Each one of the towers encapsulates the stacking of the courtrooms and at the top floor become the chambers for the judges,” explains Susie Rodriquez, Ennead partner. “The idea of the building’s massing is intended to reflect a sense of the judiciary for the 21st century, which is about a more transparent operation.”
Between the two northern towers a precast element in front of the glass houses the main elevator bank and the circulation that connects all the levels of the building. The building’s western fašade is a more opaque composition of precast, glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC), copper and aluminum panels.