The Charles R. Jonas Federal Courthouse and Courthouse in Charlotte, North Carolina, is a historic neoclassical edifice built in 1915. The building tripled in size in 1933. But recently it has been in dire need of an upgrade to turn-of-the-century standards of justice. Twenty one. Especially in the areas of security, energy efficiency and workspaces for support staff.

The construction team that included designer Robert A.M. Stern Architects and CGL Companies (which specializes in justice-related projects) recently completed the renovation and addition of an eight-story, $164.7 million wing that accommodates nine new courtrooms, rooms and support spaces. The new wing, which rises behind the original building, maintains the classic courthouse architectural presence along the Charlotte skyline.

The project included more access to the outdoor spaces.

A non-intrusive update to the Charles R. Jonas Fed

Charlotte-based Jenkins Peer Architects was the AOR on this project, which was completed 11 months ago and had its ribbon cut last May. fs3|Hodges was CMa and Brasfield & Gorrie was CMc. The project added 195,719 square feet, bringing the total building size to 315,685 square feet. The new wing includes the Special Procedures Court on the upper floor and the judges’ chambers. The addition is seeking LEED Gold certification.

A non-intrusive update to the Charles R.  Jonas Fed
An atrium and double-height staircase hall connect the existing building to the new wing.

Inside, the distinguishing feature is how the historic and new façades meet in a double-height staircase hall integrated between the two buildings. A skylight provides natural light from above the interior. Outside, Ramsa has created a two-story lighted portico that mimics the columned façade of the original building.

“We have successfully modernized the Jonas Courthouse for the future without compromising what has made it a cherished part of Charlotte’s architectural fabric,” said Kevin Kelly, partner at RAMSA, in a prepared statement. “For cities across the country, this is an example of how important and historic civic infrastructure can be modernized in a way that maintains a distinct character and presence.”

This project is the result of a 2012 US Courts and General Services Administration examination of the potential to repurpose the city-owned Jonas Courthouse for long-term housing needs. Charlotte agreed to a property exchange that returned the courthouse property to the GSA.

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