Alfonse M. D’Amato Courthouse

Generous public spaces harmonize with a monumental structure in a modern interpretation of the courthouse.

Located in Central Islip, Long Island, north of the Southern State Parkway and adjacent to the existing county courthouse, this federal courthouse takes advantage of panoramic views over both the Great South Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. The 12-story building is placed on a podium to gain an extra presence on an otherwise undifferentiated suburban site. A terraced forecourt, articulated by a modulated surface and rectilinear plantings of trees, provides an appropriate setting for a building of such civic stature, while a flexible plan creates a building that can evolve over time and is as receptive to public events as to the formalities of the judicial process. 

The building takes every opportunity to maximize the opportunities provided by its site. Its south elevation, for example, consists of a gently inflected curtain wall that allows light into the corridors and permits uninterrupted views of the ocean. A granite-clad, east-west wall separates public circulation from the courtrooms and judges’ chambers, while the north façade is faced with metal panels and pierced by horizontal windows. The building houses district courts and bankruptcy courts in separate wings, both connected to a central atrium. In response to functional and security requirements, distinct circulation zones for the public, judicial staff, and detainees were provided by careful sequencing of layered public areas, courtrooms, and judges’ chambers.

One of the building’s distinguishing features is its grand entry sequence. Visitors ascend two wide tiers of steps and enter the building through a monumental rotunda. This 9-story conical volume, top-lit and clad in white metal panels, draws visitors into a rich sequence of spaces unfolding within the building.