Research summary: Occupants’ Perceptions of Openness in Federal Courthouses

Dec 31, 2012

How do courthouse occupants and the general public perceive the architectural design of new generation federal courthouses? Does the federal government’s design intention to achieve “openness,” infused in the new generation courthouses, translate to actual perception of openness by the audience – the courthouse occupants and the general public? Which attributes of courthouse architecture actually convey openness?
In a previous study, the authors identified six “domains of interpretation” of openness as understood by clients (judges and designers); the six were: accessibility, transparency, exposure, organizational clarity, illumination, and inclusiveness. As a sequel to the first study, this study examined the courthouse occupants’ response to physical design translations of “openness”.
Analyses demonstrated that only transparency and exposure had a significant association with overall perception of openness. To a lesser degree, building occupants also associated illumination and inclusiveness with openness.

This research summary, prepared by the AIA Academy of Architecture for Justice (AAJ) in 2012, includes implications for design practice and is adapted from:
Authors: Pati D., Vice President and Director of Research, HKS, Inc.; Rashid M., Associate Professor of Design, School of Fine Arts and the School of Architecture and Urban planning, University of Kansas; Zimring C., Environmental Psychologist and Professor of Architecture and Psychology, Georgia Institute of Technology
Article Title: Occupants’ Perception of Openness in Federal Courthouses
Publisher: Locke Science Publishing Company, Inc., Chicago, IL, USA
Publication: Journal of Architectural and Planning Research
Publication Type: Peer-reviewed
Date of Publication: 2010
Volume: 27
Issue: 3
Pages: 257-269
Country of Study: USA
Search Related Keywords: Courthouse; Courthouse Architecture; Courthouse Design; Justice
Architecture; Justice Design; Openness; Perception

Debajyoti Pati (Texas Tech University)
Andrea Wade (Texas Tech University)
Sipra Pati (Texas Tech University)
Published & professionally reviewed by: 
The American Institute of Architects

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