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Bruce R. Thompson U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building

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1994–1996, Casazza, Peetz, and Hancock. 400 S. Virginia St.
  • Bruce R. Thompson U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building (Bret Morgan)
  • Bruce R. Thompson U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building (Julie Nicoletta)

Part of a nationwide program to build new federal courthouses to keep up with increasing case loads in rapidly growing regions, this courthouse and federal building should have been one of the significant public architecture projects in Reno in the 1990s. Casazza, Peetz, and Hancock, a local architecture firm, won the commission to design a 197,000-square-foot, ten-story structure. Covering most of a city block, the building has a concave main facade, the recession providing some space between the entrance and Virginia Street. Granite clads the tower, contrasting with tiers of reflective glass windows. An unembellished two-story rotunda, supported by paired attenuated columns and centered on the west facade, projects to form the main entrance. The interior contains ten courtrooms, judges' chambers, libraries, and offices. Though the building's size is impressive, its office-tower appearance represents a missed opportunity to design a federal courthouse that reflects its function and responds to the surrounding buildings.

Writing Credits

Julie Nicoletta


What's Nearby


Julie Nicoletta, "Bruce R. Thompson U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building", [Reno, Nevada], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Nevada, Julie Nicoletta. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000, 69-70.

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