EXP honors justice with design and services for new US Federal Courthouse in Saipan

Throughout the architecture industry, EXP is known for capturing the essence of a project and communicating its purpose with meaningful designs. Our architects and designers express their commitment to design excellence through iconic transit stations, world-class airports, courthouses and hospitals as the means to connect people around the world. Each of these projects tells a story. They speak to the success of our collaborative design processes, strong project management and camaraderie amongst team members, clients and stakeholders. One story came to a close in July as EXP celebrated the completion and occupancy of the United States Federal Courthouse in Saipan.

Saipan is the largest island in the US Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in the western Pacific Ocean. From Chicago, it takes approximately 36 hours to reach and is a trip EXP knows well. In 2017, the General Services Administration (GSA), awarded a 20-year lease to Marianas Management Company for the construction of a US District Courthouse. With a long-standing history of providing services for GSA, EXP was proud to join the team as the design lead in supporting the delivery of this most significant new public building in Saipan’s history, providing a range of services including architectural, structural and lighting design, as well as construction administration and project management.

EXP’s project manager, Horeya Czaplewski, AIA, took a comprehensive approach to lead the project to success. “This was an exciting opportunity to bring EXP’s expertise to Saipan. The courthouse is positioned in the heart of the island, with commanding views of the Philippine Sea. While centrally located in Saipan, the remote location from our office in Chicago posed several logistical challenges, which are not commonly considered for projects located in the continental United States. We tailored our approach to minimize hindrances including increased collaboration with local contractors, coordination of regular meetings to accommodate time differences and assessment of the climate and accessibility of materials. She continued, “This approach focused our efforts on the task at hand – delivering a 35,696 square foot courthouse to speak volumes with its design and serve as a symbol of justice for the community members of Saipan.”

Senior vice president and design director, Thomas Hoepf, FAIA, who led the design of the courthouse shared Horeya’s excitement at the opportunity to work on a federal building in Saipan. When asked about the design approach he shared, “A courthouse must communicate a universal language – the common rule of law, as well as consider the response to local culture, site and context. The new federal courthouse design reconciles the universal principles and local context with an elegant and enduring solution.” The courthouse embodies the mission EXP set to accomplish – a building to serve as a symbol of justice for the community of Saipan.

Today, the courthouse is open and operational, and the team attributes the success to collaboration with GSA, developers and adapting and overcoming logistical challenges. EXP team members who made trips to Saipan with Tom and Horeya include Jef Jakalski, Alzira Maldonado Protsishin, Jasenko Badic and Chris Bove, each who share a special bond over this accomplishment and the fond memories of  collaboration and camaraderie, which at times meant, studio-styled meetings in the warm sun of Saipan.