Tim Griffith

"I HAVE NO LONGER ANY DESIRE FOR FAME AND FORTUNE,” said Constantino Brumidi upon immigrating to America from Italy in 1852. “My one ambition and my daily prayer is that I may live long enough to make beautiful the capitol of the one country on Earth in which there is liberty.”

Brumidi’s prayer was answered. His frescoes appear in the capitol dome’s rotunda, U.S. House of Representatives’ chamber, U.S. Senate reception room, president’s room and various corridors throughout the capitol. Thus began a long tradition of incorporating art in architecture for federal buildings and U.S. courthouses.

Tim Griffith

In 1962, the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. General Services Administration, the nation’s largest landlord, implemented the Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture. The principles include “producing facilities that reflect the dignity, enterprise, vigor and stability of the Federal Government, emphasizing designs that embody the finest contemporary architectural thought; avoiding an official style; and incorporating the work of living artists in public buildings.” GSA intended its public buildings to be examples of the finest designs America’s architects and artists could provide to future generations.

Having been recognized by the Washington-based American Institute of Architects’ Committee on the Environment as one of its 2007 Top Ten Green Projects, the Wayne L. Morse United States Courthouse not only stands as an artistic expression for future generations, it also considers those generations by exemplifying the definition of sustainability: “meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” In addition to recognition by AIA COTE, the project garnered the Washington-based U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Gold rating in 2006.


Following various interviews and an intense design competition, DLR Group, Portland, Ore., was chosen as architect of record for the courthouse project in 2001. The firm partnered with Santa Monica, Calif.-based Morphosis, which served as the design architect. Design charrettes became an important part of the planning process because the team had to find a way to integrate high-level security measures and sustainability while emphasizing the relationship between the federal government and community.

“Several design imperatives come together at once in the building’s expression,” explains Jason Wandersee, AIA, principal of DLR Group. “The courthouse is planned to provide utmost security and safety for its occupants and users, yet rather than assume a defensive posture, it communicates the ready availability of justice to all. Its size and shape achieve an urban identity that befits its location in downtown Eugene.”

The courthouse was determined to be a Level IV facility by the Interagency Security Committee because it hosts high-risk law-enforcement and intelligence agencies, as well as highly sensitive government records. One security level below that of the Pentagon, Washington, the courthouse requires perimeter-parking restrictions; vehicle barriers; building setbacks to prevent car-bomb damage; blast mitigation; and ballistic, biological and chemical attack defenses. Securing a building against these attacks typically requires it to be separate from its community and rigid in design. These qualities are not a natural complement to the values of sustainability, which include transparency, sensitivity to the environment and connectivity. Wandersee and team found a way to reconcile the two priorities.

“The design implements innovative strategies to provide building security within a living, breathing, organic design vernacular wrapped around real- world sustainable features, including a dramatic, ecologically sensitive transformation of the site; extensive glazing for natural light and connectivity; energy- and water-saving systems and fixtures; and an architectural expression of judicial presence at a healthy, human scale,” Wandersee says.

Although LEED didn’t become part of the team’s work until the project was at 50 percent design-development stage, GSA and the Ninth Judicial Circuit that occupies the facility already had requested DLR Group follow green strategies. Because of this, Wandersee says achieving LEED certification for the project did not require extensive redesign or added expense.

Tim Griffith


The courthouse’s site previously hosted an industrial food-processing plant. Although remediation was unnecessary, Wandersee and team still had to reverse the negative impacts the plant left on the surrounding landscape.

By placing parking underground, which includes preferred spaces for low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles, the team was able to restore about 37 percent of the site to natural percolation rates. Security-barrier planters and a landscape extension east of the building feature native and adaptive plant species to avoid irrigation and pesticides. Incense cedar, Saskatoon serviceberry, quaking aspen and European beech were planted

between the courthouse and nearby Mill Street to the west to provide windbreaks, sound dampening and car-exhaust mitigation. The trees also will shade the building from the sun when they are fully grown.

The native plantings reduce total potable water applied by about 59 percent over baseline during analysis. Automatic rain shutoffs and moisture sensors in the irrigation system ensure water is not wasted. In addition to improving the courthouse’s site, the facility now is connected to the Willamette River and Alton Baker Park to the north, providing generous views to building occupants.

Because the courthouse is built along the edge of central Eugene in a small warehouse district the

city plans to restore, it serves as a new civic nucleus and model for conscientious development. The area already has the sought-after amenities for smart growth, including being located within 1/2 mile (0.8 km) of more than 18 basic services and three high-density residential neighborhoods. Nearby public rail and bus lines connect the area to the greater community, and the project team worked with Lane Transit District representatives to create new transit stops serving the courthouse. According to Wandersee, the team was focused on making the courthouse part of the community.

“The design articulates the building-site perimeter to meet stringent security needs but makes that security transparent to create an inviting approach for users and visitors,” Wandersee notes. “Security barriers are practically invisible, taking the form of a series of cubic retaining walls holding turf grass. As visitors approach the main entrance from the south, periodic wall openings admit pedestrians to an internal public plaza at ground level.”

Tim Griffith


The 267,008-square-foot (24805-m2) facility has 5 stories above grade and a basement level. The first and second floors contain offices for the courts and their clerks, as well as several government officials, including the U.S. Attorney, two senators and one member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The building’s six courtrooms are located on the third floor and are paired according to function—district, magistrate and bankruptcy. Courtrooms range in size from 1,798 to 2,993 square feet (167 to 278 m2). Above the courtroom level are seven judges’ chambers and two judicial library spaces.

Unlike other U.S. courtrooms, the courtrooms in this facility are immersed in natural light. “Typical courtroom design surrounds courtrooms with judges’ chambers and jury rooms as an easy way to create isolation for security and make use of the higher ceilings required by court proceedings—in effect, land locking courtrooms,” Wandersee explains. “By locating jury rooms and judges’ chambers on the floors above, the design allows for the placement of clerestory windows along the courtroom outer walls and feature windows at the judge’s bench to bring in natural light.”

The natural lighting resulted in an estimated energy savings of 38 percent compared to a baseline model. Fluorescent fixtures with dimmable ballasts controlled by daylight sensors and occupancy-sensor-controlled lighting in unoccupied spaces further save energy.

The design team integrated numerous efficiencies with the mechanical equipment, including bringing in 100 percent outdoor air at night to cool the building; integrating a displacement ventilation delivery system; employing variable-speed motors; designing for efficient operation at average, non-peak loading; incorporating high-performance, premium- efficiency motors; and using high-performance glazing to minimize radiant heat loss.

Although GSA currently is discussing the future of underfloor-air distribution in its buildings, UFAD serves a majority of the facility’s spaces, including the six courtrooms. (To read the discussion surrounding UFAD, see “perspectives,” page 53.) The UFAD system consists of a raised floor on pedestals with air supplied through the underfloor plenum. Individual controls are

provided through strategically located floor diffusers. According to Wandersee, this system provides more efficient air conditioning, requires less fan power and provides better IAQ than a traditional overhead ductwork system.

Careful selection of low-VOC building materials further improves the building’s IAQ. In fact, the design team sought products meeting Diamond Bar, Calif.-based South Coast Air Quality Management District rules; Washington-based Green Seal standards; and Green Label guidelines from the Dalton,Ga.-based Carpet and Rug Institute. The majority of the flooring in the courthouse is exposed concrete, which contains no VOCs.

Radiant floors respond to high ceilings and extensive glazing in the atrium, jury-assembly area and third-floor public corridors. Depending on the requirements of the building, hot or cool water is piped through cross-linked polyethylene tubes that are encased in the concrete floor slab. A supplemental air system provides ventilation air and a portion of the cooling capacity for public spaces. Air is delivered through wall cavities to hidden grilles at the bottom of the walls, supplying air at low levels and velocities.

In addition to saving energy, the building minimizes indoor potable water use with waterless urinals and low-flow toilets, sinks and showers. Combined with sensors at public locations, the fixtures result in more than 40 percent savings over the baseline case.

The design team made extensive use of recycled-content construction materials. “The use of recycled steel and aluminum components, including rebar, structural steel, steel deck, cold metal framing, metal stairs, formed metal fabrications, stainless-steel detention equipment and furniture, aluminum entrances and storefronts, and factory-formed metal wall panels on the exterior skin, encompassed material costs exceeding 20 percent of the overall project expense.”

Construction of the courthouse generated 1,563 tons (1418 metric tons) of construction waste. By working closely with the construction manager and general contractor, the team was able to divert 1,407 tons (1276 metric tons) of that waste from landfills.

Tim Griffith


Completed on time and within budget in November 2006, the Wayne L. Morse United States Courthouse hosts regularly scheduled tours to highlight its various sustainable attributes. In addition, visitors are enchanted by the art created for the building as part of GSA’s Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture. A piece titled “Jury Pool” features 108 colored discs with the faces of local residents, showing the diversity of the community and its connection to the courthouse.

Even those who don’t take the tour certainly can see the building meets GSA’s requirements. Wandersee remarks: “We sought to create a dynamic sense of place inside, as well as outside, while transcending the customary boundaries between them. The use of copious natural light, subtle but provocative forms and finishes and generous views of the surrounding city and mountain landscape coalesce to form a striking example of contemporary judicial architecture.”

Tim Griffith


>TEAM OWNER AND DEVELOPER / U.S. General Services Administration, Auburn, Wash., www.gsa.gov >DESIGN ARCHITECT / Morphosis, Santa Monica, Calif., www.morphosis.net >ARCHITECT OF RECORD AND ELECTRICAL ENGINEER / DLR Group, Portland, Ore., www.dlrgroup.com >SUSTAINABILITY ADVISOR AND LEED CONSULTANT / Brightworks, Portland, www.brightworks.net >STRUCTURAL AND CIVIL ENGINEER / KPFF Inc., Portland, www.kpff.com >GENERAL CONTRACTOR / JE Dunn Construction, Portland, www.jedunn.com >STRUCTURAL-STEEL FABRICATOR / Canron Western Constructors, Portland, www.supremesteel.com >MECHANICAL AND PLUMBING ENGINEER AND COMMISSIONING AGENT / Glumac International, Portland, www.glumac.com >LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT / Richard Haag Associates Inc., Seattle, (206) 325-8119 >LIGHTING DESIGNER / Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design, Culver City, Calif., www.hlblighting.com


INTERIOR METAL FRAMING / Scafco Corp., Spokane, Wash., www.scafco.com

METAL WALL PANELS / A. Zahner Co., Kansas City, Mo., www.azahner.com

EPDM ROOF / Carlisle SynTec, Carlisle, Pa., www.carlisle-syntec.com

ROOF INSULATION / Tapered crickets from Carlisle SynTec

GLAZING / Harmon Inc., Eden Prairie, Minn., www.harmoninc.com

HVAC / YR Maxe Chiller from York, York, Pa., www.york.com; Aerco Industries Ltd., Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, www.aercoindustries.com; Huntair Inc., Tualatin, Ore., www.huntair.com; and Liebert Corp., St. Louis, www.liebert.com

RADIANT HEATING / Uponor, Apple Valley, Minn., www.uponor-usa.com

BUILDING CONTROL SYSTEMS / Alerton, Redmond, Wash., www.alerton.com

ACOUSTIC CEILINGS / BASWAphon, Willoughby, Ohio, baswaphonusa.com, and Ecophon, Montgomeryville, Pa., www.ecophon-us.com

FLUORESCENT LIGHTING /Prudential Ltg., Los Angeles, www.prulite.com

AUTOMATIC DIMMING CONTROLS /Hi-Lume from Lutron, Coopersburg, Pa., www.lutron.com

OCCUPANCY SENSORS /Watt Stopper, Santa Clara, Calif., www.wattstopper.com

TOILETS / K-4330 from Kohler, Kohler, Wis., www.kohler.com, with Z-6000 flush valves from Zurn, Sanford, N.C., www.zurn.com

WATERLESS URINALS / Sloan Valve Co., Franklin Park, Ill., www.sloanvalve.com


RAISED-ACCESS FLOOR /Tate Access Floors, Jessup, Md., www.tateaccessfloors.com

CARPET / Iconic Carpet and Taylor 2027 pressure-sensitive adhesive from Bentley Prince Street, City of Industry, Calif., www.bentleyprincestreet.com

INTERIOR PAINT / Acrylic block filler OM 88 and Super Spec Eggshell Enamel C274 from Benjamin Moore & Co., Montvale, N.J., www.benjaminmoore.com

GYPSUM DRYWALL AND VENEER PLASTER / Eco Spec Primer 231 and Super Spec Eggshell Enamel C274 from Benjamin Moore & Co.

CONCRETE EPOXY / Volclay WB-Adhesive from Cetco Building Materials, Arlington Heights, Ill., www.cetco.com

INTERIOR ARCHITECTURAL WOODWORK ADHESIVE /PL Polyurethane premium construction adhesive from OSI Sealants Inc., Mentor, Ohio, www.osiproseries.com; Titebond Wood Glue from Franklin International, Columbus, Ohio, www.franklininternational.com; and Roo Glue and RooClear from Roo Products Inc., Woodburn, Ore., www.rooglue.com

TOP AND TRIM PIECES ADHESIVE /3M Spray Adhesive Hi-strength 90 from 3M Industrial Business Group, St. Paul, Minn., www.3m.com

RESILIENT ATHLETIC FLOORING ADHESIVE / E-Grip II Adhesive from ECOsurfaces Commercial Flooring, Lancaster, Pa., www.ecosurfaces.com

RESILIENT WALL BASE ADHESIVE /960 Acrylic Cove Base Adhesive from Johnsonite, Chagrin Falls, Ohio, www.johnsonite.com

CONCRETE SEALANT / Cure & Seal from Dayton Superior Specialty Chemicals, Kansas City, Kan., www.daytonsuperior.com

INTERIOR METAL WALL PANEL SEALANT / 795 Silicone Building Sealant from Dow Corning, Midland, Mich., www.dowcorning.com

TILE FLOORING PRIMER / P-100 Primer from Fritz Industries, Mesquite, Texas, www.fritztile.com

BLINDS / Draper Inc., Spiceland, Ind., www.draperinc.com

ELEVATORS / ThyssenKrupp, Dusseldorf, Germany, www.thyssenkrupp.com

IRRIGATION SYSTEM CONTROLLER /ET 2000-24 from Calsense, Carlsbad, Calif., www.calsense.com

AUTOMATIC RAIN SHUTOFF /Rain Check from Rainbird Corp., Azusa, Calif., www.rainbird.com


MOISTURE SENSOR / model 1000-S from Calsense from Carlisle SynTec