Lowell Justice Center Receives 2021 BSA Accessible Design Award

The award honors innovative design that offers solutions to accessibility challenges

December 15, 2021
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We are pleased to announce that Finegold Alexander Architect’s Lowell Justice Center was recently awarded the 2021 BSA Accessible Design Award! According to BSA, the achievement recognizes projects “that approach these [accessibility] challenges with a holistic view, presenting nuanced, creative, and noteworthy solutions. Each project serves as a teaching example to future architects, showing what is possible when excellent architectural design is also universal and equitable.”

The first LEED Platinum certified state courthouse in the Nation, the Lowell Justice Center is modern in vision and rooted in the rich history of Lowell, Massachusetts. Located on a 3.2-acre site at the northern edge of the Hamilton Canal Innovation District within the Lowell National Historic Park, the 7-story, 265,000-square-foot building contains 17 courtrooms serving 5 court divisions: superior, district, juvenile, housing, and probate and family.

The Lowell Justice Center is universally accessible with all points accessed via the same path. The commuter rail station and bus depot are a short distance away; and a new parking facility recently constructed by the City of Lowell provides easy access for those arriving by car. Bike racks are on site as well as handicapped parking spaces, secure parking for judges and senior staff as well as secure access for detainees through the sally port. Sloped walks traversing a 22-foot grade change across the site lead to a fully accessible plaza and entry. This universally accessible concept continues throughout the building with ample circulation space; multiple elevators; accessible raised witness stands and judge’s benches; accessible detention areas; abundant wheelchair spaces with shoulder-to-shoulder companion seating in the courtrooms, jury pool and public lobbies; audio and visual technology; and glazed stairwells at each end of the public galleries providing generous daylighting to enhance wellness.

"This project was executed with clear attention to physical and sensory comfort amid the general stress experienced at a courthouse. Daylighting is provided throughout the building, even in the most stress-inducing areas, such as the courtrooms and waiting rooms. The building is based on local realities, from the material selection to the public transportation hubs to the cultural gestures made in the welcoming mural. A clear effort was made for inclusivity in a respectful way, giving the impression that it is every visitor’s civil right as a citizen to use the spaces within. The jury was impressed to see the LEED Platinum certification." 2021 BSA Design Awards Jury

The judicial center balances functionality, maintainability, accessibility, security, and sustainability. It is a dignified, elegant contribution to a sustainable future for the people of Lowell for generations to come.

Read more on the award by checking out the 2021 Lowell Justice Center Accessible Design Award project page!