Lawyers Raise the Bar for Design; Law Firm Moves into Historic Courthouse

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Architecture firm Francis Cauffman renovates turn-of-the-century courthouse and integrates existing Beaux-Arts design with contemporary office elements for esteemed Delaware law firm.

Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP moved into its new headquarters, a former Federal building, after extensive renovations by architecture firm Francis Cauffman. Young Conaway is the sole tenant of the notable Daniel L. Herrmann Courthouse in downtown Wilmington. The 233,880-sq.-ft. courthouse at 10th and King Streets on Rodney Square was built in 1916 and had been vacant since 2002.

The central challenge of the project was incorporating modern office needs within a Beaux-Arts setting. “We needed to integrate the design and technological needs of a 21st-century law firm in a building that was made for a different purpose in the 1900s. We envisioned a juxtaposition of styles in the courthouse building and created a space where classical elements transition into a more modern feel. We sought harmony between the old and the new,” explains Anthony Colciaghi, AIA, NCARB, LEED BD+C, Principal at Francis Cauffman.

The renovated courthouse comprises four floors and a mezzanine. The entrance features a two-story atrium that is now the heart of Young Conaway’s public and collaboration areas. Francis Cauffman restored the central bronze stairwell, and the refurbished natural stone and chiseled marble in the atrium augment the clean, streamlined interior. The first floor has flexible conference rooms while the mezzanine floor contains a visiting attorney strategy suite, a mock trial room, additional conference rooms, and access to an outdoor plaza.

The offices on the third and fourth floors are bright and airy, with large windows to maximize daylight, and sleek nickel and stainless steel finishes. Francis Cauffman incorporated a custom-designed technology system that allows lawyers to discuss cases with colleagues in offices around the country. Since Young Conaway often hosts visiting counsel from out of town, the architecture firm also designed a state-of-the-art visitors strategy suite with private access from the street.

The U-shaped building boasts a large outdoor plaza with an urban garden lit by the building’s original ornate lampposts. The outdoor plaza can accommodate up to 300 people for events. The design firm added a 100-car garage beneath the building, making parking quick and easy for the downtown location.

To account for future expansion, Francis Cauffman developed a plan to accommodate the addition of an 8-story tower to the building. This included laying the foundations and creating infrastructure for the future addition.

Francis Cauffman, an award-winning architecture firm with offices in New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C., has supported its clients since 1954 with innovative architecture, planning, and interior design services. The practice is recognized for being on the leading edge of new investigations in healthcare, academic research and teaching, corporate research, and corporate and advanced technology. Francis Cauffman has a staff of 130 architects, planners, and interior designers and is active in 20 states and three countries. The firm’s clients include GlaxoSmithKline, Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP, Fox Rothschild LLP, Morris James LLP, and LifeCell Corporation. Major healthcare clients include Catholic Health East system, John Hopkins Hospital, North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

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Jocelyne Terilli

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