Project:
Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse
Denver, Colorado, USA


Architect:

klipp Architecture Planning Interiors
Denver, Colorado, USA


Glazing Contractor:

Trainor Glass
Denver, Colorado, USA


Kawneer Products:

1600 SS (Screw Spline)
Unitwall™ curtain wall
(modified)
GLASSvent® for Curtain Wall

The “Lantern of Justice” — this is the metaphor used by architects from Denver-based firm klipp Architecture Planning Interiors to describe the five-story, 317,000-square-foot Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse in Denver. Not only does the metaphor represent the transparent nature of justice, but it also refers to the literal translucence of the building and the significance that it has to the greater community. As described by Keat Tan, AIA, principal designer of the project at klipp Architecture Planning Interiors, the building itself was designed around several theoretical components that are reflected in both the materials used on the structure and the overall building function and aesthetic.

“The first thought was urbanism,” said Tan, “and how we were going to incorporate this design with the rest of the city and the surrounding Denver Justice Center as a whole. The second was the transparency and light that would be emitted from the ‘Lantern of Justice’ that the building’s function represented.”

Articulating this idea is a folding wall of glass on the east side of the building that reaches 92 feet high. The wall, made with modified 1600 SS (Screw Spline) Unitwall™ curtain wall from Kawneer, extends from north to south forming the “lens” of the lantern. The intricate design of the wall, which incorporates several setbacks, folds and slopes, posed several challenges. To maintain the integrity of the design and the concept of transparency and light, the architect did not want to incorporate a steel support behind the wall, but rather have the wall appear to float. Due to the complexity of the project and tight time schedule, a team with a great deal of experience and ingenuity was selected.

“The first thought was urbanism,” said Tan, “and how we were going to incorporate this design with the rest of the city and the surrounding Denver Justice Center as a whole. The second was the transparency and light that would be emitted from the ‘Lantern of Justice’ that the building’s function represented.”

Beth Hockett with Trainor Glass worked with Hensel Phelps, the project’s general contractor, early on as the wall went through a design metamorphosis, during which an opportunity arose to give a custom appearance with proven products. Patrick Murray, major project sales representative with Kawneer, was brought in to meet with the architect to prioritize the requirements for the curtain wall. “After seeing the design, we partnered with Trainor Glass to develop a proprietary strategy that would help us create a custom product for the project," said Murray. "We make it a priority to do everything we can to turn a design into reality.”

“Because the design called for a curtain wall on a tilted plane, and the designer wanted to make it appear as if it were floating, it had to be top-hung from a secondary steel structure supplied by Trainor and coordinated with Kawneer,” said Bill Trainor, project manager with Trainor Glass.

Working with the architect and Kawneer engineers, Trainor Glass created a 3D model of the wall to ensure that all components could fit together and that the dead load could be supported. The run of the building emphasized horizontal lines, which also posed a challenge. To create the “lens” appearance, large lites of glass were used in the curtain wall, which were approximately 9 feet by 3 feet and very heavy. To help design the wall’s support system, experts from Viracon joined the technical engineering team to help determine the weight and flexion of the glass.

On average, Denver sees 320 days of sunshine a year, which played directly into the design strategy of allowing maximum light penetration. During the day, light filters deep into the building through the glass curtain wall onto five levels of circulation, open stairs and balconies. Directly behind the 1600 SS Unitwall™ sits the “Filament of Justice,” a vertical light fixture that radiates from the inside at nighttime or when daylight is insufficient. The brightness of this light and the transparent glass façade allow the light from the building to be visible from the business district of downtown Denver as well as other prominent points throughout the area. In addition to providing daylighting, Kawneer’s 1600 SS Unitwall™ incorporates GLASSvents® throughout the judges’ chambers. These integrated seamlessly with the building’s design

“Light is the lead character in the building,” said Murray. “The way the wall blends into the surrounding substrate and the fact that all the angles and bends of the wall diffuse light on the interior to provide a glow rather than a glare is exquisite.”

“After seeing the design, we partnered with Trainor Glass to develop a proprietary strategy that would help us create a custom product for the project,” said Murray. “We make it a priority to do everything we can to turn a design into reality.”

Despite the building’s complex design, all parties involved agreed that installation went smoothly and on schedule.

Fitting the design within budget required building setup to be done in a repetitive manner. “All the rooms, including the 35 courtrooms, are set up the same from top to bottom — courtrooms on top of courtrooms with the holding areas stacking. This makes it easier in a building like this one to handle security as well as keep the design economically feasible,” said Garey Dickinson, senior associate with klipp Architecture Planning Interiors.

Even this budgetary issue was enveloped into the thematic design — “The layering idea fits into the idea of the stratification of justice,” said Tan. “From the outside you can look in and see the courtrooms in all five floors. The placements and planes of glass create a constantly changing environment as weather varies, seasons change and during different times of day.”

The Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse is on track for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification. The use of Kawneer’s 1600 SS Unitwall™ helped the project with maximum daylight goals and several LEED requirements in the Materials & Resources category. The use of recycled billet contributed to the requirements for recycled content; additionally the curtain wall was fabricated and glazed at Trainor’s shop, which was located less than 500 miles from the job site. The courthouse opened in July 2010 and has received positive response from the community, it recently received the 2010 AIA Denver Honor Award for design excellence.

“Overall, the building is a visual success,” said Tan. “The sloped glass blossoms from the inside and the proportions of the atrium are absolutely perfect. I’ve stood on every level looking out and I can’t think of one thing we could have done better.”