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Design concept for Clackamas Courthouse, a large eight-story building in Oregon, red brick façade with vertical window panels create a striped fenestration, green lawn out front 
Clackamas County Courthouse

Shaping Civic Life by Creating Connection

Project Location

Clackamas County, OR


241,500 SF


IJ Global, Infrastructure Deal of the Year


Planning, interiors, design, environmental acoustics, and lighting

Nestled in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Clackamas County is home to nearly half a million people. This is significant growth from the time when the existing county courthouse was built in 1936. Designed to serve fewer than 50,000 residents, the existing facility no longer meets the demands of this rapidly growing region. Our team’s design for the new Clackamas County Courthouse weaves together history, regionality, and modern workplace and civic life. The building’s placement, interior organization, and civic plaza all shape the way citizens seek services at the new courthouse by creating a strong connection to the county campus, adjacent services, and clear identification of the building’s presence on the site.

The new six-story courthouse welcomes visitors and staff with clear wayfinding, ensuring that a person attending court or seeking county services knows where to go. The two-story public lobby creates clear lines of sight to all public functions on each floor, creating a secure environment while being easily accessible to citizens. The central plaza outside is visible from all public circulation zones as a common reference point on each floor.

While many courthouses prioritize the public engagement spaces of the building, this design ensures that the people who work in the building every day equally benefit from the working environment. We planned spaces and selected materials to reduce stress, improve staff connections with each other, and partnered with departments to streamline the judicial process. Within a courthouse, workplace environments extend to non-traditional spaces. Clerks, sheriff’s staff, attorneys, interpreters, and judges all have working areas and offices within the courtrooms themselves. Simple planes of wood imbue the spaces with dignity and calm, and every courtroom enjoys direct or borrowed daylight.

This P3 project won IJ Global Awards’ “Social Infrastructure Deal of the Year.” As the committee states, “The project achieves excellence in social infrastructure as it presents an innovative approach to address a facility in urgent need of replacement, increasing community needs, and sustainability targets . . . This project also supports the County’s goal to be carbon neutral in operations by 2050, and complies with the Oregon Green Energy Technology program, which will include technology to produce at least 25% of the building’s energy onsite.”

The new six-story 240,000-SF courthouse includes 14 courtrooms with flex space to build out two additional courtrooms. A private circulation system throughout the building allows access to all courtrooms and support spaces without crossing public circulation zones. This feature improves space-sharing, long-term flexibility, and security. Through a public-private partnership procurement process, Clackamas County selected DLR Group, part of Clackamas Progress Partners, to design a new courthouse that will serve the county for the next 50-plus years and meet all the requirements of the Oregon Judicial Department. The new courthouse integrates seamlessly into the existing government campus while establishing it as the new focal point for the campus. DLR Group provided planning, design, lighting, environmental acoustics, and interiors services.

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