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BUILDING A DAY: October 20, 2014

US Courthouse
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Architect: William Morgan 
Photos: University of Florida Digital Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries

“This outstanding design, Morgan’s greatest built work, brings all his strengths as an architect to the highest degree of resolution. The building is at once appropriately monumental and relatively low in profile, being only four floors in height, the scale characteristic of the cities Morgan admires, such as Rome and Vienna?
– ?William Morgan: Selected and Current Works,? by Robert McCarter (2002)

The United States Courthouse in Ft. Lauderdale was designed in 1976 and completed in 1979. The 336,014 square foot building was constructed of reinforced concrete in strong horizontal, articulated and textured forms that that are staggered to create a large urban canopy to provides shade and sun protection in the urban context.

The large central courtyard with graduated terraces steps to the street level with integrated stairs in the cascading pools of water. The courtyard sits above the single story of parking.

The building’s structural system is graceful and visually uplifting with cast-in-place structural ?trees.? McCarter describes the structural system as follows:

?Here, the basic structure of the building is fully exposed, the 30-foot grid of cruciform-shaped, cast-in-place concrete ?trees? rising four floors to where they branch into four 3-foot deep cantilevered beam ?limbs,? which in turn support a 20-foot concrete slab. The 10-foot, structure-free space surrounding each structural ?tree? on all four sides, spanned only by a concrete slab, accommodates all mechanical services on the interior of the building.?

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