SYDNEY'S Queens Square Law Courts' $214 million upgrade included a design overhaul of 19 courts taking up an area of 27,000 square metres, The New Lawyer can reveal.
NSW Premier Nathan Rees announced a $69 million upgrade to the NSW Supreme Court building on Tuesday, as has been reported, but this is only a fraction of the actual upgrade and expenditure.
An update of the 27-storey, 1970s modern heritage building in Sydney's Macquarie Street saw Law Courts Limited hire architects Hassell as well as Group GSA to add light to the justice system.
The courts, which house the High Court of Australia, the Federal Court of Australia, the Supreme Court of NSW and their associated operational departments, needed a design that reflected the philosophy of an open, transparent court process, the architects said.
Fundamental to the design is the implementation of a collegial environment for judicial staff, as well as the incorporation of new technologies.
The architects were asked to create spaces with materials befitting an important public institution. Durability and longevity have also been key drivers in the design process. The refitted building has also received major life safety and maintenance upgrades, extending its useable life, the architects said.
Energy saving design would save the courts 20 per cent of its energy output, which would translate to an annual financial saving of about $100,000.
The courts will continue to fully function, and the redesign is expected to be compete by 2012.