Thunder Bay Consolidated Courthouse
Architect: Adamson Associates Architects
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
Awarded a citation
This courthouse combines two courts into one facility, incorporating input from Aboriginal and community leaders to create a thoroughly modern building that also recalls Ontario’s past.
The project consolidates Thunder Bay's Superior and Provincial Courts into one contemporary six-story, 250,000-square-foot building. Located in Thunder Bay's downtown core, the new courthouse improves access to justice in the area by combining the services of the existing courthouses within one facility, increasing the number of courtrooms available, improving accessibility, health and safety, and security standards. The Thunder Bay Consolidated Courthouse accommodates 19 adjudication rooms, including 15 courtrooms and four conference/settlement suites.
Aboriginal input was crucial to the design from the project's earliest stages. Elders and leaders of various native communities were consulted to solicit their ideas for the courthouse in the context of their traditions. The result is a unique civic project that reflects and accommodates Aboriginal culture. Included among the adjudication spaces is Ontario's first Aboriginal Conference Settlement Suite, designed to give a stronger voice in the justice process to First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. The suite is a culturally and architecturally relevant space, where aboriginal traditions are acknowledged and understood and where court matters such as case conferences, pre-trials, and family and civil hearings can be adjudicated in a way that supports the healing process.
Located on the ground floor of the courthouse, the suite is circular in design and features a stone hearth at its centre, which will be used for smudging ceremonies before the start of proceedings. The suite was designed in consultation with ministry policy advisers, court representatives, and members of Aboriginal communities.
In a nod to the significant role the courthouse traditionally played in the civic and social realm, this space will also be used for community functions. The result is a thoroughly modern building that looks to the past in its embodiment of the permanence, grandeur, and civic authority of the Courthouse, while hearkening to the future with an innovative and sustainable design that furthers the delivery of justice in Ontario.
This is a great design solution with strong planning. It has well-developed exterior, and elegant interior, spaces. It also makes good use of daylighting in the courtrooms.