Kent County Courthouse

The former Kent County Hall of Justice was well-known in legal circles as one of the worst facilities of its kind, with small spaces, little privacy and lacking security. Tom led the A/E team to complete a new, consolidated Courthouse to replace the old facility. The new Courthouse consolidates District, Circuit and Probate Courts into one technologically-advanced building. This was one of the first courthouses in the country to be built under new security standards developed following the Oklahoma City bombing.

The new Courthouse was built on the vacant site of the former Grand Rapids City Hall, one of the most revered public places and architectural icons of pre-urban renewal Grand Rapids. The new building design drew on historic and contemporary cues to honor the site and its use as a primary public place for Kent County. The building form was generated through study of the sculptural forces influencing the site and neighboring buildings.

Design work began with site selection evaluations, space program analysis, and design concepts for Kent County and the City of Grand Rapids Courts. The Courthouse contains 20 new courtrooms, 6 hearing rooms, judge chambers, secure detention areas, administrative floors, restricted below-grade parking, future expansion space for the County and City judicial systems, and state-of-the-art courtroom technology. Using the courtrooms as an organizational block, this complex building appears simple to the public, and presents a modern, convenient, private, and secure environment for county departments and members of the public. A full-scale model of a typical courtroom was built for review by the judiciary and staff members prior to completing design.

The building rises 230 feet from the street, and has reshaped the Grand Rapids skyline. It features an outdoor plaza with historic elements of the original Grand Rapids City hall, including an original clock face from the clock tower.

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Architect of record:

Tom’s role:
Project Manager at TowerPinkster

Date completed:

323,000 sq ft

Matthew Fowler