Hearing rooms are typically located in office building shell and core structures housing federal agencies and are used for, but not limited to, the conduct of civil (non-criminal) proceedings, typically involving arbitration, mediation, or adjudication of cases where the U.S. government is the defendant. Federal agencies using Hearing Rooms include:
- U.S. Veterans Administration Board of Veterans Appeals.
The design of Hearing Rooms involves many of the design attributes found in courtrooms, except that Hearing Rooms have no requirements for prisoner handling; are smaller in scale; and have a variety of agency specific support space requirements that differ from courtrooms in courthouses. Typical features of Hearing Room space types include the list of applicable design objectives elements as outlined below. For a complete list and definitions of the design objectives within the context of whole building design, click on the titles below.
- Lifts at the Witness Stand. Judge's Bench, accessible by additional stop of Witness Stand lift.
- Support spaces attached to the hearing room, agency specific for judicial, records, attorney conference, copy, etc.
- The well area should have lighting designed for document reading by participants. Judge's Bench and Witness Stand to have recessed down light above with compact fluorescent lamp every 10 SF. Dimmable light controls located at the Judges Bench, Hearing Room Clerk station.
- Ballistic barriers and secure locking latches are an option, depending on the agencies' risk analysis and are considered a special cost item.
The following diagram illustrates a typical Hearing Room.
Example Construction Criteria
Relevant Codes and Standards
The following agencies and organizations have developed codes and standards affecting the design of hearing rooms. Note that the codes and standards are minimum requirements. Architects, engineers, and consultants should consider exceeding the applicable requirements whenever possible:
Accessible—Provide Equal Access and Flexibility, Aesthetics—Understanding the Language and Elements of Design, Functional / Operational—Account for Functional Needs, Functional / Operational—Ensure Appropriate Product/Systems Integration, Productive—Assure Reliable Systems and Spaces, Productive—Provide Comfortable Environments, Secure / Safe—Occupant Safety and Health
- Architectural Graphic Standards, 12th Edition by American Institute of Architects, Dennis J. Hall. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2016.
- Building Type Basics for Justice Facilities by Todd S. Phillips & Michael A. Griebel. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., July 2003.
- GSA PBS-P100 Facilities Standards for the Public Buildings Service
- GSA Green Courthouse Design Concepts
- GSA LEED® Cost Study
- GSA LEED® Applications Guide
- GSA Standard Level Features and Finishes for U.S. Court Facilities
- GSA U.S. Courts Design Guide Judicial Conference