Project

Built to Last

Originally designed by George A. Clough in 1886, the historic Durfee High School still serves the public—today as a courthouse

Fall River Trial Courthouse

Client: Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Fall River, Massachusetts

With a commanding presence and expansive views of the Taunton River and Mt Hope Bay from its hilltop location in Fall River, the historic Durfee High School was transformed into the Fall River Trial Courthouse. Finegold Alexander worked closely with DCAMM, the Commonwealth and the Massachusetts Historic Commission to develop the best adaptive reuse solution. Extensive reconfiguration was necessary to meet the diverse needs of three court departments, transforming the building into a contemporary courthouse while preserving its unique historic character. The primary challenge of the project involved the development of a secure interior circulation system for judges, jurors, detainees, and the public.

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Size
66,500 SF
Scope
Adaptive Use, Renovation
Program
Five Courtrooms, Clerk and Probation Offices, Law Library, Jury Pool, Detention Areas
Sustainability
Awards
1998 DCPO Excellence in Public Design and Construction
1997 Massachusetts Preservation Award
1993 Historic Commission AIA Award, Justice Facilities Review
In the news
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Project EUI
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"The project looks great. I really like that the building is very efficient and straightforward. I love the low landing at the main stair – it invites people up (not intimidating). I especially love how the utilitarian egress stair towers have been made into a very strong design element with the use of the stone facing on the interior and exterior and how those strong elements are offset by the glazing on both sides. I think the plaza is wonderful and so comfortable and accessible – there was so much to mediate with the different levels and points of access.”
- Elizabeth Minnis, AIA, Deputy Commissioner, Planning, DCAMM

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View of demolition at assembly space of the former Durfee High School. Four of the facility's five courtrooms are located on a new fourth floor. The fourth floor was created by inserting an interstitial floor in the school's former double-height assembly space.

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"That [on any given weekday, the courthouse attracts upward of 1,000 people to the district] will be an economic engine to the downtown of our city."
- Mayor William Flanagan