The 4th Courthouse
100 Jefferson County Parkway
The main building of the campus of the Jefferson County Government Center is known by people across Colorado simply as the Taj Mahal. The Jefferson County Courthouse, towering 125 feet over the rest of the campus at its south end, is a 531,000 square foot monument inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, costing $102 million in 1993 to build, $62 million more than its Human Services predecessor. Inside are 28 courtrooms, 32 judges’ chambers, 12 conference rooms, 2 training rooms, and 2 hearing rooms. This building features tan and brown cast stone built in a pair of semicircular wings meeting at a 5-story soaring glass rotunda at the center standing 130 feet tall, an atrium large enough to be capable of housing Jeffco’s original opulent courthouse.
Trimmed in brass and cherry wood, the interior reaches into the rotunda with semicircular bay balconies, all floors decorated in neutral colors sparked by bands of rose, green and blue terrazzo with bits of red granite in the floors. The west wing houses the Jeffco administrative offices; the east wing houses its courtrooms. The exterior’s buff precast concrete includes darker squares and crosses to break up its massive scale. Despite winning a national citation from the American Institute of Architects, the building’s many local critics threw two commissioners responsible for it out of office promptly for spending too lavishly on it without going to the voters.
Feelings appear to have mellowed since then, however, though Jeffco’s people still fondly know what may be their permanent home as the Taj Mahal. It is one of 7 buildings comprising the Jefferson County Government Center, originally born of the defunct Foothills Office Park of the 1980s and the nearby Jefferson County Jail built in 1986. The campus now includes the Human Services Building, Dakota Building, Open Space Building, District Attorney’s Office, Jail, and Courthouse. This building, like the Human Services Building, was designed by the architectural firm of C.W. Fentress, J.H. Bradburn & Associates, most famous for designing Denver International Airport.
by Richard Gardner – Gardner History & Preservation