Architecture and Design

Sandra Day O'Connor Courthouse Slapped as a Space Waster

When it opened in 2000, the Sandra Day O'Connor federal courthouse in downtown Phoenix was both heralded as a sign that the courthouse was regaining ground as a center of urban life, and hated as a "dirty glass greenhouse" -- literally too airy to cool in the hot Arizona summer.

Now that building is again the center of controversy, as a GAO report out this week spanks the building and other recently built courthouses as too large.

And because Arizona can't seem to catch a break in the headlines these days, of course our courthouse just has to be the largest of the 27 buildings getting bitchslapped for wasting money.

For a celebration of the original style, check out former New Times writer Edward Lebow's excellent look at the building, and to catch up on the latest brouhaha, read the Washington Post's piece.  

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Amy Silverman is a two-time winner of the Arizona Press Club’s Journalist of the Year award. Her work has appeared on the radio show This American Life and in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Lenny Letter, and Brain, Child. She’s the co-curator of the live reading series Bar Flies, and a commentator for KJZZ, the NPR affiliate in Phoenix. Silverman is the author of the book My Heart Can’t Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love, and Down Syndrome (Woodbine House 2016). Follow her on Instagram (@amysilverman), Twitter (@amysilvermanaz), and at