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A Sustainable Design Showcase for the GSA

US General Services Administration
Alfred A. Arraj US District Courthouse

Denver, Colorado, USA

The new Alfred A. Arraj US Courthouse presents an optimistic, forward-looking image to the city of Denver while making a strong case for sustainable design.

The design reflects the city’s rich architectural heritage. Recalling a traditional town square courthouse, the two-story pavilion acts as the frontispiece to the building. An open peristyle colonnade supports the roof and transparently encloses the entrance lobby and drum-shaped secure lobby.

GSA set a goal for this project to “use the latest available proven technologies for environmentally sensitive design, construction and operation,” saying that “it should set a standard and be a model for sustainable design.” The GSA also wanted to create a building that would remain effective for 100 years.

The team analyzed each sustainable design strategy with a cost/payback model and ensured that it would work within new courthouse security criteria. Photovoltaics, daylighting and underfloor displacement ventilation contribute to a 40 percent reduction in projected energy use compared to a conventional design. Cooling and humidification use an indirect/direct evaporative system that reduces the need for chilled water to less than 100 hours per year. Finishes feature durable, natural and renewable materials.

The team worked with early drafts of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating system through the design process. The building as designed would likely earn a LEED Gold rating.

HOK was the design architect and Anderson Mason Dale P.C. was the architect of record.


383,000 sq. ft. / 35,600 sq. m.


Facility Programming
Interior Design
Lighting Design
Master Planning


AIA Colorado – Honor Award

AIA Committee on Architecture for Justice – AIA Justice Facilities Review

AIA Committee on Architecture for Justice – Distinguished Building Honor Award

AIA Denver – Citation Award

Colorado Renewable Energy Society – Renewable Energy in Buildings Award

Environmental Design & Construction magazine – Excellence in Design, Honorable Mention

Masonry Institute of Michigan – Masonry Award

National Center for State Courts – Citation, Retrospective of Courthouse Design

US General Services Administration – Environmental Awards, Model Facility Demonstrations

World Sustainable Building Conference – Green Building Challenge


Number of years the courthouse is designed to last


Percentage of space that receives natural light


Projected energy savings compared to a Code of Federal Regulations energy baseline