The Puerto Rico Supreme Court building is located in the east end of the islet of San Juan in the Luis Muñoz Rivera Park in Puerta de Tierra. The structure was built between 1953 and 1956 to house the judicial body, which was established by the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (1952). The entity replaced the Supreme Court created by the Foraker Act in 1900.
The former Supreme Court was originally located in the former Dominican Convent in Old San Juan, but in 1931 it moved to the Capitol. Once the Constitution was approved, construction began on a new site for the court. The former offices of the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration (PRRA) in the Luis Muñoz Rivera Park had been empty since 1948 and were selected as the ideal site for the new court.
The building was designed by the firm Toro Ferrer Arquitectos, in collaboration with consultants Charles W. Warner, Jr. and Harold Eliot Leeds. The modern style structure is characterized by the simplicity of its forms, the absence of ornamentation and references to the trends of modern art. Construction began in 1953 and concluded in 1956. The Supreme Court building was the first institutional work built under the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
The rectangular, three-story structure was built of reinforced concrete. Due to its setting on a slope, the designers decided to create a building that fit in well with its surroundings, so they built an open structure over a pool surrounded by a garden. The main entrance has a stairway that leads to a vestibule, located on the second level, that in turn leads to curved stairs that pass above the pool. On this level, the galleries are divided by columns, glass dividers and fixed blinds. The court room, located on the third level, is circular and is topped by a plain cupola.
The Puerto Rico Supreme Court building is a good example of the modern movement and its application in the local tropical context. It was included in the National Register of Historic Places on July 14, 2006.
By the PROE Editorial Group
Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: September 08, 2014.
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