Jaclyn Lattanza is a junior at Comsewogue High School in Port Jefferson Station.



The Shape of Justice

Basic geometry is at the heart of Architect Richard Meier’s courthouse

By Jaclyn Lattanza

Greene Team Correspondent

he spacious hallways of the Alfonse D’Amato U.S. ’s District Courthouse in Central Islip gleam with light as the sun shines through the tall glass windows.  A rectangle, cube, plane, and cone meshednded together cover the 865,000 square foot spread of the complex.

This is an example of the vision of architect Richard Meier, who uses basic geometric shapes to express his three main focus points: light, color, and place.  Although his designs may look basic, he insertshas meaning behind every aspect of what he creates.  Inside of the courtrooms, natural cherry wood molds into exact copies of perfectly cut square panels on the walls.  

In the late 1980s, plans were processed to construct a very intricate building.  To complete the project in 1996, Richard Meier & Partners, Architects LLP, worked with the Spector Group, and Turner Construction.  The building stretches 600 feet long and 235 feet high.  Because of the exceptional effort put into this building, the total cost ranged from $200-$300 million. 

The federal courthouse in Central Islip was built in 1996.

In the late 1980s, plans were processed to construct a very intricate building.  To complete the project in 1996, Richard Meier & Partners, Architects LLP, worked with the Spector Group, and Turner Construction.  The building stretches 600 feet long and 235 feet high.  Because of the exceptional effort put into this building, the total cost ranged from $200-$300 million. 

The courthouse is awash with white clad aluminum panels and San Sebastian granite from Canada.  ““The first is the beauty of San Sebastian.  This gray, white and black granite has been described as noble, discreet, sophisticated and one with nature,” said (according to Clermont Perron of Polycor Granite Bussière, on  from http://www.stoneworld.com.

Meier chose the graniteThis specific material was chosen because of its uniformity, using .  large three-foot square panels The large size of the panelsto create needed a consistent look that would not change drastically from the first to the last.  The theme is present is can be seen in all of the courtrooms of the building.  The use of By using natural cherry wood from the same tree insures that each panel is exactly the same.  

AnoSome other interesting aspects of this building isare the hallways. The walls move closer together from  By standing at the beginning of the corridor and looking down to the endhallway, a feature , the walls get closer together.  This was that allows congestion designed so traffic tocould easeily slow down as workers and visitors reach the end.  Meier also added sun screens on the glass windows; the sun’s rays are so powerful during the day that the hallway becomes extremely hot otherwise.  

Basic geometric figures are very important to Meier.  The main rectangular level, which contains the complex’s administrative and judicial services and courtrooms, allows enough flexibility to accommodate expansion, as does the fact that out of the whole complex, only 460,000 square feet is utilizable.

Meier uses effective techniques such as simple geometry, layered definition of spaces, and effects of light.  One of the most significant aspects he refers to when formulating an idea is what he termed “placeness.” : “What is it that makes a space a place. (Words of Richard Meier according to http://architect.architecture.sk/richard-meier-architect/richard-meier-architect.php).” 

To achievdvocate placeness, Meier refers to ten factors: factors which cause the Mode of Being; emphasize the building as an independent object; present the building in its given environment; encourage fantasy and play; encourage excitement; preserve a sense of mystery and adventure; connect us to reality; link the building to its past; facilitate the spontaneous exchanges; and affirm people’s identity.

When asked by  New York Newsday, architect Richard Meier had said the U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building was one of his favorite projects.  By creating such amazing projects, he has become a very diverse architect as well as internationally reknowned.  His most famouswell known projects are the High Museum in Atlanta, the Frankfurt Museum for Decorative Arts in Germany, and the Getty Center in Los Angeles, California.  

In 1984, Meier was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize.  According to thinkexist.com, Based on all of his work, Meier said: “When I think of a place of worship, I think of a place where one can sit and be reminded of all the things that are important outside our individual lives.  To express spirituality, the architect has to think of the original material of architecture, space and light.” (according to http://thinkexist.com/quotes/richard_meier/).”















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