Wayne Lyman Morse United State Courthouse
The Wayne L. Morse United States Courthouse in Eugene, OR, was built under the U.S. General Service Administration's Design Excellence Program and was completed in October 2006. Mayer/Reed was tasked with creating a multifaceted environmental graphics program that includes building signage and a U.S. Constitution mural in the lobby.
Working off the project architect's goal of expressing the fluidity of the judicial system through the building's forms and finishes, Mayer/Reed explored the integration of visual communications into the architectural design and space codification. Rather than being an added layer of "labeling" or decoration, the visual communications are embedded in the architectural surfaces and detailing.
The building's primary identity consists of stainless steel letters fritted into the exterior glazing, providing a contemporary but dignified introduction to the courthouse. In the lobby, a welcome mural features the "We the People" preamble and Article III of the U.S. Constitution writ large and multi-layered on bead-blasted and paint-infilled glass and digital prints. Elsewhere in the building, fragments of Article III are embedded into the backgrounds of glass sign panels that identify more than 150 public area rooms, symbolically emphasizing the idea that the physical building is infused with the essence of our country's historical foundation.
Other interior signs emerge from the material into which they are embedded. Directional signs are quietly integrated into the architecture in the form of laser-cut and painted monochromatic letterforms on the plaster walls. Identity for the courtrooms is integrated into the door design as deeply extruded letterforms that emphasize the constricted passage into the courtroom.
"Courthouse signage is a challenge. The tangle of architects' intentions, GSA standards, and functional requirements can dampen the creativity of a good environmental graphic design team. This courthouse signage designer has created a memorable installation that stands out from the norm. The simple, elegant program integrates nicely with the building fabric."
Michael Reed (principal in charge), Debbie Shaw (project designer)
ES&A Sign & Awning Co. (signage); Ostrom Glass & Metal Works (glass room identity signs and glass mural)