Polk County Criminal Courthouse Exterior
Polk County Criminal Courthouse Court Room
Polk County Criminal Courthouse Lobby

Polk County Criminal Courthouse

Des Moines, Iowa

115,000 GSF

The Polk County Criminal Courthouse project involved the renovation of the former county jail into a 5-story criminal courthouse. Looking toward the future, the building’s fifth floor was left unfinished to accommodate further expansion.


  • The design included highly efficient water cooled variable refrigerant systems with a roof-mounted cooling tower and multiple high efficiency condensing boilers.
  • The plant was designed to serve the Criminal Courts Building and to provide heating and cooling to the Historic Courthouse Building across the street. An existing tunnel connecting the buildings was utilized to pipe central plant capacity to the Historic Courthouse.
  • A new 480V, 3-phase, electrical distribution system was designed to provide convenient power solutions throughout the facility.
  • Architectural lighting design services were provided to incorporate LED lighting solutions throughout the interior spaces that reduced the lighting power density to be 53% better than code minimum.
  • New code-compliant lighting control systems were incorporated into the design and provide individual control throughout many staff areas. Control systems for public spaces were designed to automatically regulate lighting systems through a partial building-wide control network.
  • A new plumbing system with highly efficient condensing water heaters was incorporated into the design.
  • The electronic video surveillance system scope included migrating the analog cameras to IP-based and adding new IP cameras and associated equipment.
  • Audiovisual systems throughout the facility include sound reinforcement, video evidence display and video conferencing capabilities for the courtrooms, speech amplification and recording, video presentation for training rooms and conference room spaces, as well as digital signage and room schedulers.

Photography credit: ©Wayne Johnson, Main Street Studio

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