Special/Signature Issues » Fall Arts Preview

The Law Is Luxurious

With the opening of the U.S. Courthouse, one significant piece of downtown renovation is complete. Wait 'til New York hears.



As Vanity Fair makes clear, only the very rich in New York can enjoy the designs of Robert A.M. Stern. But in Richmond, all you have to do is break the law. Stern, the dean of Yale Architecture School, designed the $102 million U.S. Courthouse on East Broad Street, which officially opens in October.

Sprawled across an entire city block, the building's 346,000 square feet and seven floors house the United States District Court, the U.S. Attorney's Office, the bankruptcy court and the federal public defender. It makes references to nearby classical landmarks and introduces dramatic, sweeping curves that allow views of Capitol Square on one side and enclose a glass atrium on another.

The September issue of Vanity Fair, meanwhile, lays out a spread on Stern and his new apartment building at 15 Central Park West (“the world's most lucrative apartment building”), calling him a “wildly productive architect, scholar and teacher.”

Directly across the street from the Courthouse, the National — a theater-turned-cinema-turned-music venue in the 700 block — is thrilling audiences with an elegant redo by Johannas Design Group that considers patron comfort while respecting the charms of the 1920s movie palace.

So after a decade of decimating the former retail district on East Broad Street in the name of downtown development, for the first time both sides of a block have been completely renewed or rebuilt.


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