The new Ascension Parish Courthouse welcomes visitors with a ‘front porch’ design

This series about the 2021 American Institute of Architects Rose Awards
highlights award-winning architecture in Louisiana.

Grace Hebert Curtis Architects
Ascension Parish Courthouse

CATEGORY: Architecture

The spacious, state-of-the-art Ascension Parish Courthouse is designed to accommodate the current and future requirements of the Parish Court, the Judicial District Court and Parish Council. The new structure also houses the Clerk of Court, Sheriff’s Department and Judges’ Chambers.

While broad expanses of glass are used along the exterior to draw natural light into the building, glass used strategically throughout the interior gives staff added security and prevents the passage of contraband to those in custody. In particular, a patterned glass screen wall along inmate movement routes offer texture and visual interest to the space.

Outside, the building is flanked by broad steps and a small plaza. Soaring exterior columns support a striking overhanging roof to create a bold and highly visible entrance. The exterior color and material palette—as well as the column design—continue into the lobby, creating cohesion between indoor and outdoor spaces.

The courthouse’s exterior material palate mimics its neighboring municipal building with the intent of creating a visual campus.

The large glass lobby is subtly turned towards the entry drive and parking as if it is reaching out to its visitors welcoming them into the expansive two-and-a-half-story lobby. The large columns create a justice feel but also give homage to the “front porch” that South Louisiana design is accustomed to.

Combining traditional and contemporary vernacular in the façade are a nod to the parish’s humble but progressive nature.

In the lobby, the timeless interior finish palette of warm neutrals, classic wood tones and large expanses of glazing creates a welcoming entry for patrons. The layered screen with clear glass between custom patterned metal panels defines the single point access of the building providing visibility and security. The integrated security process melds effortlessly with the design for entry and exiting the courthouse.

In the courtroom, the architectural wood detailing focuses attention to the judge’s bench in honor of their integrity. Integrated technology allows case information to flow freely from the attorneys’ podium or judges’ bench to jurors and audience with use of large monitors and tablets.

The council chambers borrows space from the multipurpose assembly room, allowing for council meetings when the operable partition is open. When closed, the room serves as a jury lounge capable of seating 200 individuals.