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Supreme Court

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1989–1991, Eissmann-Pence Architects. 201 S. Carson St.
  • (Photograph by Julie Nicoletta)

Although the Supreme Court was originally housed in the capitol, the latter's 1913 remodeling compromised office space for the judicial branch of government. In 1937 the Supreme Court moved across the street to what is now the Office of the Attorney General. By the 1980s the judicial branch had once again outgrown its quarters. The local architecture firm of Eissmann-Pence designed a new four-story facility, which was constructed in 1989–1991.

The west facade, looking onto the capitol plaza, has a stripped-down, pedimented portico with four bays on each side, defined by monumental but simple piers. The east facade has an imposing portico flanked by recessed wings. An elaborate system of staircases and landings on this side provides exterior access to the first two floors of the building. The main entrance leads into a three-story octagonal atrium below the rotunda—a monumental ceremonial space unlike most others in the state. Columns mark each of the eight corners, and the room is crowned with a shallow ribbed, glass dome. Embedded in the marble floor is a large brass image of the state seal. A concrete band above the second floor and below the rotunda features in relief the words “One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

The courtroom is a large space decorated with pink marble and mahogany; the seal of the Nevada Supreme Court adorns the wall above the bench. The top floor provides office space for the justices and staff. Below the main floor is the ground-level Supreme Court Library. The building rests on a subterranean parking garage.

Like the recently renovated State Legislative Building and the State Library (1993) next door, the Supreme Court displays a late twentieth-century tendency toward the banal in public buildings in the Capitol Complex. Limited budgets and the desire on the part of architects and legislators to erect buildings that will not offend have produced results unworthy of the earlier tradition of small but elegantly designed structures.

Writing Credits

Julie Nicoletta


What's Nearby


Julie Nicoletta, "Supreme Court", [Carson City, 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, 103-104.

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