9 - Design Standards for U.S. Court Facilities

The following complementary documents provide comprehensive programming and design criteria for United States Courts facilities.

  • U.S. Courts Design Guide: (USCDG)
    Focuses on the functional program requirements; the departmental and interdepartmental adjacency relationships; finish materials; and the specific performance criteria for environmental systems including heating, cooling, and lighting. It also addresses acoustic, security, telecommunications and audio/visual design requirements.
  • Requirements and Specifications for Special Purpose and Support Space Manual including all volumes and addenda: (USMS-RSSPSSM)
    Provides the finish criteria for USMS functional program requirements; spatial relationships; electronic/ physical security plus hardware standards and special HVAC requirements within the U.S. Courts and Court related spaces.

The USCDG includes a tabular comparison of funding responsibilities for all components of the courthouse and court functional space. (This information is organized into budget requirements for: GSA; Judiciary; and the Judiciary-Related Executive Branch Agencies.)

The USCDG and USMS-RSSPSSM speak directly to the functional requirements of the user and tenant. Chapter 9 presents the most cost effective and efficient building systems, and materials to achieve the appropriate environment from the perspective of the building owner (GSA); by reference to: applicable technical standards; security standards; life-safety and accessibility requirements.

The USCDG makes reference to technical information related to performance criteria in order to help illustrate the rationale for the design requirements and to establish the standard for level of quality.

Chapter 9 refers to program and design issues in an effort to relate the design intent directly to the technical requirements for the building systems and finishes.

Chapter 9 does not cover issues related to selection of audio-visual, data, or telecommunications systems. (This criterion is developed in the U.S. Courts Courtroom Technology Manual.) Reference is made to these systems in Chapter 9 only with regard to the electrical service requirements in the areas where they are being installed.

Complementary documents to both the USCDG and Chapter 9 are the USMS-RSSPSSM standards. These documents establish, in detail, the environmental, security, functional, and technical requirements for the USMS spatial accommodations within U.S. courthouses. They include: information regarding secure environments for prisoners being held in preparation for a court appearance; USMS staff facilities; and general building security requirements. (The building perimeter and site specific security issues are the responsibility of the GSA.) GSA is responsible for power to the electronic security devices, but it should be understood by the design consultants that the USMS security contractor provides detailing and environmental requirements related to security within the functional area dedicated to the courts. Chapter 9 will indicate general requirements, but the USMS-RSSPSSM is the standard to follow.

Last Reviewed: 2019-02-26