Comstock's magazine 0618 - June 2018 - Page 69

To meet the needs of its quickly growing population, Placer County identified a 100-acre parcel off Highway 65 in Roseville to locate its new justice center and superior court. The modern interpretation of a traditional courthouse yield- ed a structure with a dramatic and open entryway, large glass windows and contemporary architectural elements that are also sustainable. The site’s parcel was owned by JB Co. (Joe Benvenuti), a local developer and contractor who agreed to sell the land to the county and build the courthouse. The County signed a short-term lease agreement with JB Co. to design, build and lease back the courthouse, before allowing the State of California to buy it from the County once all the transactions had taken place (the State was in the process of acquiring the responsibility for all courthouses during a seven-year peri- od from 2002 to 2009). Placer County interviewed potential architects to design the project and selected Sacramento architect Dreyfuss + Blackford, which has a vast portfolio of courthouse projects and had successfully worked with the County and the general contractor on previous projects. For economies sake, the architects explored the idea of using a tilt-up design, with the understanding that the ceremonial face of the building needed to have a big civic expression. That gave the designers an opportunity to econo- mize on three of the four walls and then use the fourth wall for a large, striking entry. Protected wetlands in the area limited the site to 72 acres of usable land, with 5 acres for the court- house. The remainder is used for other county justice needs, including a jail and sheriff offices. To capitalize on the view and manage the warm temperatures, Dreyfuss + Blackford oriented the building so that the contemplative spaces — the judge’s chambers and the jury deliberation rooms — were south facing and overlooked the natural pastoral wetlands. On the north side, the alignment allowed for lots of glass and was a natural place for the front door of the building. The building kinks, with a knuckle that divides the courtrooms and offices. That kink gave the architects the inspiration for a series of seven individual sets of what they call expressive eyebrows. “It was the kinking of the building that allowed us to create this very unique, idiosyncratic expression,” says president and managing principal John Webre. “We looked to the real transparency involved in the U.S. criminal justice system, which is so unique, and took a very modern view and interpretation of the role of justice in this country.” The proj- ect was completed in 2008. June 2018 | 75