The American Institute of Architects Colorado honored the architects behind the Montezuma County Combined Courts with a statewide award on Sept. 7.
Peer-reviewed and judged by architects in Portland, Oregon, the winning projects were designed by Colorado firms and were recognized for use of materials, space and design, and for fostering “livable communities,” according to a press release from AIA.
Roth Sheppard Architects and Humphries Poli Architects, both from Denver, received a Notable in Denver award for their work on the courthouse. A total of 21 architects were represented in the awards gala.
Jurors said “the project was especially notable because of the kiva element,” according to AIA communications manager Marisa Pooley. Additionally, they appreciated its nod to the nearby Pueblo structures in the Mesa Verde cliffs and felt that the project did a notable job of honoring the local history in a contemporary way, Pooley said.
“The design’s focus on reducing energy costs, thanks to its mostly east-west orientation, while also providing views of the Ute Mountain and San Juan mountains, also led to the project’s recognition,” Pooley said.
The courthouse, which combines district court, county court and probation under one roof at 865 N. Park St., celebrated its grand opening in October. The total cost for the 29,000-square-foot courthouse came to $9.5 million, of which Montezuma County contributed $6.6 million out of cash reserves. The rest came from state grants, including Underfunded Courts and Department of Local Affairs.
Its design was derived from shapes found in Southwest Colorado.
According to the architects, the overall wedge-like form of the main building references shed-like structures found throughout agrarian Montezuma County, and the overhanging roof and recessed facade reference the cliff houses of Mesa Verde National Park, where the mesa top shelters living areas from the noon sun.
Punched openings in the wall’s face also reflect the ancient dwellings, and rusted metal, stucco and steel reinforce the agrarian aesthetic.
A kiva-like area at the main entrance defines the front plaza and serves as a meeting area.
Slot windows within the kiva were positioned to frame views of significant mountain peaks from the center of the kiva, including the Mesa Verde range and Babcock Peak. High clerestory windows allow daylight to penetrate the public hall and adjacent courtrooms.
The awards were presented at the AIA Colorado Design and Honor Awards Gala in the Seawall Grand Ballroom, Denver Center for the Performing Arts.
“There are thousands of architects in Colorado, and they are all doing great,” said Cathy Rosset, vice president and CEO of AIA Colorado. “But our design awards offer a chance to celebrate the best of the best and to honor the architects who are pushing their designs to the next level so that they serve the community and clients, both today and in the future.”
Projects were considered throughout the state for the following awards: Notable in Denver, Notable in the West, Notable in the South or Notable in the North. After a project earns a notable award, it automatically advances for consideration for a 2018 AIA Colorado statewide award – Honorable Mention, Award of Merit or the top honor, Award of Excellence.
Three architectural firms won the Award of Excellence, for projects in Boulder, Silverthorne and Scottsdale, Arizona.