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Photos: How the $130M Nathan Deal Judicial Center came together near downtown

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It’s the most expensive state-funded facility in Georgia history

A exterior view of the new court building, with large columns and other classical features.
“It’s a very important building in the history of the State of Georgia.”
Photos courtesy of Robert A.M. Stern Architects and Stevens & Wilkinson

It looks like something you might expect to see on the back of American currency.

On Capitol Avenue, just a block south of Georgia’s statehouse, the Gold Dome, the Nathan Deal Judicial Center made its long-awaited debut late last year.

Costing a little more than $130 million, the classical construction is the most expensive facility built with state funds in Georgia history.

Unlike many historic architectural installations around Atlanta—or buildings poised to one day be considered historic—the new building is expected to stand at least a century.

Design efforts for the judicial center were spearheaded by Robert A.M. Stern Architects and Stevens & Wilkinson of Atlanta, which sought to “create a dialogue” between the new structure and the Gold Dome.

So says Grant Marani, partner at RAMSA.

Marani tells Curbed Atlanta the building was designed to “have a presence that would complement the surrounding buildings,” namely the statehouse.

A rounded atrium ascends five floors.
The grand atrium.
A courtroom with a large oval lighting arrangement and wooden furniture.
The Court of Appeals.

Additionally, says Marani, “We saw this as an opportunity to build upon that legacy of [building] fine courthouses throughout the State of Georgia.”

RAMSA architects, Marani says, looked at the architectural elements of courthouses around Georgia and supersized them into a more than 200,000-square-foot, seven-story structure that lords over Interstate 75/85.

“It’s very visible as you drive up to the courthouse from any side of the interstate,” he says.

A skylight on the ceiling of the supreme courtroom offers natural lighting.
The Supreme Court.
An ovular rotunda outside the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court lobby.

Inside, there’s a grand atrium greeting visitors from the plaza side of the building, as well as two courtrooms—the appellate court at the second floor, and the supreme court at the top.

As for that “dialogue,” Marani notes that the goal was not to mimic or compete with the aesthetic of the statehouse or courthouses of old.

In fact, the judicial center offers multiple vantage points toward downtown’s government district, and when the doors are open in the courtrooms, people can see straight to the Gold Dome, he says.

“And with the gabled roof, that does hearken back to many of the earlier courthouse buildings... without imitating them,” Marani says. “It created a dialogue across time.”

Now finished and operational, the structure is nothing short of “a very important building in the history of the State of Georgia,” Marani says.

A view from the entry plaza.
A view from far away, in downtown, shows how the new judicial building compliments the architecture of the statehouse.