Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building + US Courthouse Modernization / Addition

Bangor, Maine / United States of America

The 1968 Courthouse is an important example of regional mid-century architecture. The renovation/addition/preservation design compliments the original building with a simple palette, integrating new elements while optimizing re-use of existing. Our charge was to:

  • Restore “distinguishing architectural features” (canopies, façade);
  • Create a new “first impression” by adding an entry pavilion to consolidate formerly separate Court and Post Office entries, and incorporate new security;
  • Renovate circulation and offices throughout;
  • Add District/Magistrate Courtrooms;
  • Replace MEP/Life-Safety systems;
  • Achieve LEED Platinum.

The beacon-like Pavilion is a transparent jewel in contrast to the opaque existing building. It slips behind “historic” canopies and spans across flanking intimate gardens - as a bridge marking entry into the domain of the Courthouse.  The pavilion is conceived as a lightweight, simply and delicately detailed reinterpretation of the white concrete frame and cornice of the original building. Despite its blast-resistance, the super-light structure is designed with exceptionally thin profiles, and superbly crafted and assembled with low-iron, low-reflectance glass in a point-supported glazing system.

The original Court/Office Entry was small and cluttered with signage and security equipment, and did not provide a fitting Courthouse entry. However, the former Postal Lobby was one of the building’s significant spaces. Since Postal was moving out, this space was re-purposed to create a new post-security Arrival Hall that links the transformed Court/Office Lobby and new Social Security Lobby. The Hall walls mirror the solid/glazed elevation of the exterior wall creating an arcade-like alternating rhythm of deeply textured precast concrete and etched glass panels recognizing Margaret Chase Smith’s achievements.  Murals terminate views at each end of the Hall - Yvonne Jaquette’s “Autumn Expansion” was professionally conserved and reinstalled with new lighting at the Court/Office Lobby, while Tim Rollins’ and Kids of Survival “Declaration of Conscience”, a mural created with local school kids, terminates the view at the new Social Security Lobby.

Architect of Record


Associate Architect

amec foster wheeler


U.S. General Services Administration (GSA)

General Contractor

Consigli Construction


  • Studeoverde Landscape
  • Steinkamp Photography