New Castle County Courthouse|
715 North Orange Street, Wilmington, DE 19801
110 S. Poplar Street, #400, Wilmington, DE 19801
Total Square Feet:
May 1999 to Sep 2002
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: HLM Design - 800 North Magnolia Avenue, Orlando, FL 32803
GENERAL CONTRACTOR: EDiS Company/Jacobs - 110 S. Poplar Street, #400, Wilmington, DE 19801
ELECTRICAL & MECHANICAL ENGINEER: HLM Design - 800 North Magnolia Avenue, Orlando, FL 32803
COST ESTIMATOR: EDiS Company - 110 S. Poplar Street, #400, Wilmington, DE 19801
The New Castle County Courthouse building in Wilmington, Delaware replaced the Herman Courthouse building that was constructed in the early 1900’s. The old courthouse was too small to house all of the current courthouse functions and was not designed for today’s technology. The new courthouse not only houses all of today’s courthouse functions, it was designed for future expansion as well. Eight courtrooms were “shelled” in the new building to be fitted out at a later date when needed.
Located in the heart of downtown Wilmington, the courthouse is a contemporary symbol of justice and a gathering place for Wilmington citizens. The courthouse is sited on a five-acre parcel in the Christina Gateway section of the City and was designed to fit within the City’s existing architectural fabric. It has both a highrise and low-rise element and it combines both curtainwall and masonry to reflect the scale and materials of the surrounding buildings. It also includes a large plaza in front, which mirrors another public plaza at the other end of the street. The plaza provides a gathering place, not only for the people who visit the courthouse but for the general public as well.
The building is sited in such a way as to be a point of reference on the city skyline while providing a pedestrian friendly scale at street level. The low-rise element of the building is three stories out of the ground and is closest to the street and pedestrian traffic. It includes office space, a prisoner holding area, and family court courtrooms. The main tower, which is 14 stories, sits farther back from the street and is on axis with the existing neighboring buildings. The tower houses the more public functions of the courthouse as well as Superior Court, Common Pleas Court, Chancery Court and Judges’ Chambers.
The tower portion of the building can be seen from I-95 and the train station, which are both gateways to the City. That is significant because of the large number of people who travel to Delaware to have cases tried in Chancery Court. Delaware is the corporate home for over half of the Fortune 500 companies, and because of this many corporate legal cases are tried in Delaware. Chancery Court is where all of those cases are heard. Providing a visual reference to out of state visitors to the courthouse was an important feature of the design.
The lower floors of the tower contain the more public functions of the courthouse: the Prospective Juror Assembly Room; Office of the Prothonotary and Parking Ticket Collection. They were located on the lower floors because they were areas that had higher walk-in traffic with short-term visits. Because of the high volume of traffic on the lower floors, an atrium with escalators was designed into the building. The atrium gives the shortterm visitor a visual reference as well as provides a large public space. The escalators allow the short-term visitors to move through the lower floors quickly without tying up the elevators.
The new courthouse also includes state-of-the-art technology. Every courtroom includes raised flooring for flexibility in wiring for the technology. Also every courtroom is wired for video transmission, should that be required in the future. The courthouse also includes the latest developments in security for the protection of employees and the public. The courthouse is truly designed to satisfy the legal needs of the State of Delaware today and for many years into the 21st century.