Explore the database in a variety of ways
Information about the CourtsWeb project
Browse the database for courthouse and courtroom information: statistics, drawings, photographs, panoramas
Analyze various spatial representations of the courthouses
Compare the complete data set: courthouse and courtroom areas, building inventory, cost
Search the database for information related to individual courthouses or the entire data set
Public  Version
A limited selection of contemporary United States (U.S.) courthouse case studies
3D diagram of the building
 > 3D Diagram

CourtsWeb is an on-line information database designed to document new courthouses and to serve as a significant resource for new courthouse design. The web-based application supports multiple ways of retrieving, comparing, and ranking diverse types of media including three-dimensional interactive models, figure-ground diagrams, adjacency diagrams, 360 degree panoramic images, photos, drawings, numbers and text, and provides an information-rich resource for General Services Administration (GSA), the Judiciary, and the contracted architects and engineers, who design new courthouses.

The CourtsWeb application was developed over a period of eight years (2008-2015) by the Shape Computation Lab (SCL) at the College of Architecture at Georgia Institute of Technology (scl.coa.gatech.edu). The research team was led by Pr. Thanos Economou, PhD, Associate Professor of Architecture and Director of SCL, and Dr. Thomas Grasl, Principal and Head of Research at SWAP Architects. The research team consisted of doctorate, graduate, and undergraduate students of the College of Architecture and the College of Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology.

The application, programming and content, is the front end - and foundational body of work too - of a wider research project undertaken at SCL on the formal analysis of the architectural typology of courthouses. This research traces the history and logic of the building type of the courthouse from the seventeenth to twentieth-first centuries and focuses on the generative description of existing architectural configurations and theoretically possible ones. Significantly, the theoretical model extends the current practices in courthouse design by focusing on the sectional possibilities found within the building type to essentially propose eight typological models that can capture constructively all built as well as hypothetically possible courthouse building forms. The theoretical model is supported by a computational model that formalizes the current practices of courtroom layouts in three-dimensional representations along with a language of open spaces (courtyards, atria, gardens, etc.) to produce highly expressive and original specifications of courthouse schematic designs. The underlying formalism is based on shape grammars and the implementation algorithms are based on a graph theoretic modeling of shape grammar computations. The theory on the generative description of courthouse building forms is currently under preparation for book publication.


The public version of CourtsWeb provides a limited view of the database to showcase basic functionality of the system to a wider audience. The complete version includes fifty-four contemporary U.S. courthouses; advanced functionality to interact with the data and a generous set of interactive models, immersive media, visual diagrams, and numerical data foregrounding the architectural organization of the affected buildings. The complete version is behind the GSA firewall with access limited to GSA and U.S. Courts personnel on a need-to-know basis.

Developed by GSA, U.S. Courts and Georgia Institute of Technology