Things you just don't get - Page 1553
One of my personal favorite pieces of pork barrel spending is the federal courthouse in Phoenix, a pet John McCain project. Here's a picture of the ginormous atrium. (The actual courtrooms and offices are built around the outside on two sides of the building. You can see them there to the right of the pic. They probably have twice as many as they need. (In contrast to most federal courthouses, which are significantly under resourced and overutilized, this place always felt like a half-empty zen center when I had to go there.)
Because, what makes more sense in the Arizona desert than building it as a giant, multi-floor greenhouse where you're constantly airconditioning a stadium-sized pocket of unused space at the same time you're super-heating through glass walls and ceilings. A couple of the bailiffs told me that (not surprisingly) the HVAC has never really been able to cope, so they basically have to bring layers of clothing every day because the temperature can vary by 20 degrees depending on where in the building they're stationed, and AC system leaks/condensation have made mildew a constant problem.
Not that I expect government to incorporate great or smart designs, but its a shame they didn't. I was reading an article about a new big box retailer in Texas focused on green home improvements, and their designs incorporate a lot of interesting design like a saw-tooth roof and lots of natural light, but windows are kept out of direct sunlight.
Anyone who knows me wouldn't confuse me for a greeny or someone into natural/organic/sustainable stuff, but I do like reading about new developments in the space, and if I lived in Texas, I would definitely check out the store. I mean, it just makes sense if you can design an office or store to consume half the electricity to do it, and I wish government would be held to a level of fiduciary responsibility around how it spends our tax dollars, so things like the courthouse you highlighted really bother me.
This isn't the same article, but it talks about some of the same design aspects. http://www.architectmagazine.com/design/lake-flato-designs-a-not-so-big-box-home-improvement-store_o
Article looks interesting, will read.
I will say that stripped of geographic context and economic considerations, that courthouse is cool-looking inside. With all that open space, it feels much more tranquil than most courthouses. (The fact that it's far less crowded and busy than the typical courthouse probably has something to do with that, too.) But even as you're standing there appreciating all that space and light, it's hard not to immediately jump to thoughts of "Holy cow, what must they be paying in electricity to keep cooling all this empty air here in the middle of the desert?"
One of my favorite courthouses (this has become the courthouse architecture thread, right?) is the Superior Court in Santa Barbara, which is in a restored mission building.
Beautiful restored tile work inside, courtrooms that actually have windows providing natural light.