The four-story federal courthouse accommodates three courtrooms and was designed to accommodate a future fourth courtroom and up to four judges’ chambers. The 84-foot-tall atrium is the centerpiece, with oversized arched windows on three sides, reinforcing the grandeur of the entrance on the fourth. A formal staircase ascends to the upper level, while a balcony frames the perimeter overhead. Numerous large punched windows bring natural light into the courtrooms and offices. Transparent in nature, the windows afford views of the city and allow people to look inside the building.
Fentress Architects embraced opportunities presented by the site’s adjacency to City Hall. The final layout is a conscious, symmetrical composition whereby the Federal Courthouse and Cape Girardeau City Hall define the western and eastern axes between the two civic buildings. The symmetrical composition creates a pedestrian-friendly lawn with ample space for gathering, which together with the buildings, forms a strong civic district that helps spur positive development.