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Fitting a Courtroom into Existing Space: Limiting User Capacity

by Alan Ruby / April 24, 2014

When the use of flexible furniture and fixtures, as described in an earlier article, is not enough to provide adequate space in an undersized courtroom, it may be necessary to take the next step and reduce the user capacity of the courtroom.

Courtroom User Capacity - Fentress Incorporated

Limiting user capacity usually means reducing the seating available to the public. A typical courtroom has spectator seating for 30 or more participants, and a large ceremonial courtroom can have seating for 100 or more participants. The basic logic is that the functionality of the well area takes priority over spectator seating. Limiting the space for the spectators increases the space available for the well. I should mention that some court proceedings require large spectator seating so this solution does not apply to all types of courts.


Spectator Seating and User Capacity

Limiting spectator seating can impact the shape of the resulting well area, which may present challenges. However, having flexible furniture and fixtures can enhance the functionality of even a narrow, rectangular well area.

There are creative solutions to limiting spectator seating and user capacity. Perhaps the most creative solution I have encountered was in an Idaho courthouse (see photo) where videoconferencing equipment was set up in a courtroom with limited spectator seating. The overflow of spectators was moved to an adjacent courtroom where they could watch the proceedings on large flat-panel monitors. The high quality of the technology allowed spectators to observe the proceeding even though the user capacity in the courtroom conducting the trial was limited.


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Tags: Courtroom Design

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Alan Ruby

Alan Ruby

Alan Ruby joined Fentress in 2002 and is one of the company's senior architects. He combines an extensive knowledge of architecture and the built environment with analytical skills. Alan is an avid scuba diver and cyclist, and a long-time collector of abstract art.