Virginia Courthouse Facility Guidelines


While with the National Center for State Court, Mr. Hardenbergh prepared facility guidelines for the Executive office of the Virginia Supreme Court that were designed to help Virginia's courts and local governments plan and design better court facilities. The guidelines included steps for planning a courthouse and specific design recommendations, but were not intended to set minimum standards. The guidelines made recommendations about the location of the courthouse, general circulation patterns, building security, courtroom layout, judicial chambers, jury assembly and deliberation rooms, law library, prisoner holding, magistrate's offices, commonwealth attorney's offices, probation and court services, attorney's lounge, the clerk's offices, and press facilities.


The guidelines also included advice on selecting an architect and the facility planning process. The report recommends that a consultant experienced in court facilities planning be hired to prepare a facility program that documents operational requirements, planning and design criteria, and current and future space needs.  


Mr. Hardenbergh finished a complete rewrite of the guidelines for the Executive Office of the Supreme Court in 1999 that was republished in 20001. It may be downloaded from the Supreme Court’s website at The new edition contains additional material on handicapped accessibility, ergonomic design, planning for new court technologies, and building support spaces. It also contains new graphics and illustrations relating to typical stacking and court floor layouts.