Skip Main Links
Pinellas County Family Courts

A Courthouse Designed for Healing​

Project Location

Clearwater, FL


86,000-SF New addition / 73,000-SF Renovation


Architecture, planning, and interiors

Project Type


Courthouses require a unique balance in their design. They have to welcome the public, be secure for all users, possess the dignity of their important social function, and still manage to showcase forward-thinking design. This project exemplifies what it means to bring innovative, evidence-based designs to civic life that care for the traumas of those who interact with the space. 

The Pinellas County Family Court Annex allows the county to consolidate court operations at their central campus, create a new public entrance, and develop a unique identity for family courts. In public spaces, the project focuses on comfort and convenience of use for the visiting public and public workers, as well as providing natural daylight and a variety of colors to create an inviting and calming environment. The courthouse also has to double as a trauma-informed workplace, guaranteeing areas for staff to rejuvenate and focus on wellness.

This design-build project consists of an 86,000-SF four-courts addition and new security entry, and a 73,000-SF renovation for the clerk of court, jury assembly, sheriff locker rooms, secure entry, new technology infrastructure, and security systems overhaul. This project has involved many stakeholders in the design process to serve each department’s needs to the fullest value and satisfaction. The stakeholders include the Judiciary, Clerk of Court, Sheriff, Security, Call Center, Attorneys, Case Workers, Facilities, Contractors, and multiple Technology and Security groups.

​A Nurturing Space

To make a courthouse a truly healing place, several different and equally important design considerations have to be addressed. Taken together, they create a built environment that promotes a healthy civic life.

Trauma-Informed Design

​Designing a Safe Place

When designing to accommodate children and families, the overwhelming and difficult emotions inherent to the courthouse experience make it even more crucial to create healing, trauma-informed spaces. In the Child and Family Waiting Room, extensive daylighting and views foster a sense of connection with nature, while a blue-green color palette works to provide a calming environment while referencing Florida’s extensive Gulf coastline.


Updating Courtroom Design

Courtrooms are essential to the justice system, and as such should be places of equity. The need to welcome the public, however, sometimes causes tension with a desire for courtrooms to be dignified spaces. Both of these needs are met through the use of high-end finishes and textural variety. Our design enlists soothing blue-green glass to allow daylight into the room, and a warm, playful wood texture throughout. The saturation of color and daylight brings a sense of lighthearted hospitality to a room that might otherwise feel enclosed and intimidating.


Building on Workplace Trends

It’s all too easy to forget that our civic buildings are also workplaces. Like any other workplace, the people who serve daily within these spaces deserve an environment that reflects their status and contributes to their health and wellness. Views to the outdoors and shared daylighting provide an engaging connection to nature. 


Incorporating Hospitality Design

Just as workspaces within a courthouse draw on trends in workplace design, public gathering spaces throughout the courthouse draw inspiration from the hospitality sector. A consistent color palette, comfortable seating options that allow for a variety of private and group contemplation, and connection to the world outside all remain crucially employed throughout the Annex. These spaces, which connect the Annex to the original Courthouse, also serve as vital symbols of the centralization of civic life that makes justice more accessible to the communities the courthouse serves.

Featured Video
Trauma-Informed Design for Civic Life

The Pinellas County Family Court Annex exemplifies what it means to bring to civic life cutting-edge, evidence-based designs that care for the traumas of those who enter this public space.

courthouse family area, high-ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows fill all walls provide natural light, soothing blues and greens for flooring, modular seating areas, barrel lamps overhead with blue and green shades

​In the Media

​Courthouses That Work: Trauma-Informed Design Trends​

August 24, 2023

​One of the last things to come to mind when we think of courthouses is one of the most crucial – courthouses are workplaces.

Read More

Contact Us

Contact Us

  • Ready for the latest updates, delivered right to your inbox? By checking Subscribe, you agree to receive DLR Group’s weekly newsletter.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.