Half-an-hour north of Boston, the Massachusetts city of Lowell has recently welcomed the new Lowell Justice Center, a modern facility on track to become the state’s first LEED Platinum-certified courthouse. Designed by Boston-based Finegold Alexander Architects, the $146 million courthouse has consolidated a series of courts and service offices that had formerly been located in outdated and dysfunctional buildings across Lowell and Cambridge. The Lowell Justice Center also serves as a new and welcoming civic landmark that emphasizes transparency, local history and community.

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lobby area with double-height wood ceilings and glass walls

Located on a 3.2-acre site within Lowell National Historic Park, The Lowell Justice Center serves as the cornerstone of the city’s Hamilton Canal District development masterplan. The 265,000-square-foot modern building comprises 17 courtrooms, a variety of office spaces and a two-story entrance lobby that can accommodate waiting lines of over 100 people at any time.

Related: Renzo Piano reveals designs for Toronto courthouse targeting LEED Silver

wood benches along a glass wall

“The justice center is designed to create a welcoming and calming environment, featuring generous natural daylight, warm finishes and public art that reflects the diverse history and culture of Lowell,” said Moe Finegold FAIA, principal in charge for Finegold Alexander Architects, in reference to the quadrilingual quotations and words about justice that decorate the building as well as the natural material palette and artwork that pay homage to Lowell’s textile history. The courthouse is also universally accessible with sloped walkways and offers easy access via public transportation, car or bicycle.

angled room of courtroom with wood benches and wood tables

Ample glazing reflects the courthouse’s values of transparency while letting abundant natural light into the building to minimize reliance on artificial lighting. The center has also been designed in response to its site and to follow passive solar principles to meet high standards of energy efficiency. In addition to highly insulated walls and high-performance mechanical and lighting systems, the courthouse also contains a chilled beam HVAC system and photovoltaic panels to help achieve performance targets 40% better than code.

+ Finegold Alexander Architects

Photography by Anton Grassl Photography via Finegold Alexander Architects