Montezuma County Combined Courts

Architects: Roth Sheppard Architects, Humphries Poli Architects

Location: Cortez, Colorado

Awarded a published

The concept of the 33,000 SF Montezuma County Courthouse takes its clues from Mesa Verde and the surrounding agrarian context. A Kiva element near the main public entry defines the entry plaza and functions as a public community room when not in use as a jury assembly room. Slot windows within the Kiva element are placed to frame views of the significant mountain peaks from the center point of the Kiva. The overall sheltered form of the main building is symbolic of the crevice in the Mesa Verde mountainside while also recalling the simple shed like structures found within this agricultural community of 26,140 people.

The courthouse building is elongated along an east/west oriented axis to maximize passive strategies and provide views to the Ute Mountain range and the San Juan Mountains. This orientation also allows for an axial alignment with Mount Wilson: a revered natural icon. The significant overhang on the south facade shades the clerestory from direct summer sun, allowing for daylight to penetrate the lobby and the courtrooms beyond. The solidity of massing and repetition of punched openings in the wall below the overhang are derivative of the exterior aesthetic of the dwellings within Mesa Verde, where narrow vertically oriented apertures provide security and controlled daylight.

" Simple program and design with rich spatial elaboration within limited budget." ~ Jury comment

Additional information

Engineer - Civil: Goff Engineering

Engineer - MEP: MKK Engineering

Engineer - Structural: Martin & Martin

General Contractor: Jaynes Construction

Landscape Architect: CH & M Landscape Architect


Frank J. Greene, FAIA (Chair), RicciGreene Associates, New York, NY

Tedd Howard, Tedd Howard Strategic Project Leaders, British Columbia, Canada

Mehrdad Yazdani, Assoc. AIA, Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design, Los Angeles, CA

Barbara Marcille, Multnomah County Circuit Court, Portland, OR

Mark Cavagnero, FAIA, Mark Cavagnero Associates Architects, San Francisco, CA

Melanie Bevan, Ed.D., Bradenton Police Department, Bradenton, FL

Elizabeth McDonald, AIA, Bjarke Ingels Group, Brooklyn, NY

Image credits

022v2_Cortez_Ext_6257 R

Paul Brokering

012v2_Cortez_Ext_6234 R

Paul Brokering

036v2_Cortez_Corridor_6360 R

Paul Brokering

039v2pep1_Cortez_JuryRm_6430 R

Paul Brokering

040v2_Cortez_CourtRm2_6446 R

Paul Brokering