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Kent County Courthouse Public Art Project Links

Links for Public Art

Kent County Courthouse Public Art Project

(call for artists closed on 11/10/05)

Rendering of the new Kent County Courthouse by HOK Architects The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) in association with the Rhode Island Judiciary is pleased to announce a call for artists to create site-specific artwork for the new Kent County Courthouse in Warwick, Rhode Island.


RISCA will conduct the Kent County Courthouse Public Art submission process online, with all materials submitted in digital format.  There is no charge to the artist for applying or submitting digital images. At this stage we are requesting submissions from artists or art teams consisting of six (6) images representing current work (completed within the past five years). These images, along with supplementary materials, will be reviewed by the Kent County Courthouse Public Art Panel to assess the artist’s ability to carry out commissioned work at the current project site. This call for proposals is open to all artists.

NOTE: No slides or hard copy materials will be accepted for this call. First time CAFÉ applicants must allow enough time to prepare their CAFÉ formatted digital images and electronic submission prior to the deadline. CAFÉ research survey has shown it takes approx. 1.5 hours to prepare images and submit application, dependent on a variety of factors.

Each application must be submitted via the CaFÉ(tm) web site and must include:
  1. A current resume for each artist. If you are applying as a team, include all team member resumes within one document.
  2. Six digital images of relevant work. Accompanying image annotation must list media, size, title, include date of completion in the Description of Image and a brief description of the artwork if necessary. Please do not present more than one view of artwork per image, if you wish to show a "detail", include it within the six (6) artwork images
  3. A written statement, not to exceed 2000 characters, that addresses the artist's/team's preliminary concept or potential approach for addressing the project.
  4. An indication of which site(s) within the RFP the artist would like to submit a full proposal for installation.

About CaFÉ(tm):

The CaFÉ(tm) (www.CallForEntry.org) online application process is a Web-based service that allows users to easily and cost-effectively apply for visual art calls for entry.  The service, provided by WESTAF, is especially designed for use in public art and other visual arts competition programs.

Because slides are expensive to produce, maintain and copy, and slide projectors are being phased out, many organizations now prefer to review artists' work via high-resolution digital images.  CaFÉ(tm) provides artists with an easy-to-use system to enter contact information, upload digital images and support materials, and enter calls.  For more information, image preparation instructions, and to begin your application, please visit: http://www.callforentry.org


  • October 7, 2005          CaFÉ(tm) website open for submissions
  • November 8, 2005 at 5:00 p.m. MST   Deadline for submissions
  • November 28, 2005     First selection panel meeting
  • January, 2006               Finalist presentations to selection panel
  • February, 2006            Contract approval for recommended artist

The final recommendations of the selection panel will be reviewed by the Public Art Committee.  The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts will have final approval of all Public Art selection. 


The new Kent County Courthouse is currently under construction with a completion date projected for the spring of 2006.  This state-of-the-art facility, located on Route 2 and Quaker Lane in Warwick, will house the Rhode Island Judiciary.  The facility will contain 6 superior courtrooms, five family courtrooms, and five district courtrooms.  The ground floor will house the regional offices of the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Public Defender, Adult and Juvenile Probation offices, and the Capital Police. Child custody, divorce, arraignments, video conferences, contract disputes - the nature and number of cases heard by the Rhode Island Judiciary varies on a daily basis.  It is an environment of emotionally charged work that touches the lives of people representing every demographic in Rhode Island. Artwork for the Kent County Courthouse will be commissioned through Rhode Island’s Public Art Law, which mandates that 1% of all state capital construction and renovation funds be allocated to the purchase and maintenance of public art.  Through this program the state recognizes that “public art creates a more humane environment: one of distinction, enjoyment and pride for all citizens.”  (RI State Law: Chapter 42-75.2). 

The new Kent County Courthouse was designed by H.O.K. Architects, based in New York, whose primary concern was to design a facility that represents the Judiciary’s renewed commitment to the principles of openness, democracy, dignity and accessibility.  The building design provides a user-friendly, secure and technologically advanced courthouse that forgoes the rigidity and intimidation of traditional courthouse architecture.  The building is asymmetrical; the façade is literally transparent; and the interior emphasizes light and air circulation.  The clarity of the architecture and the flexibility of the space are intended to streamline the judicial process for Rhode Island citizens.

The new courthouse will remedy problems found in the existing courthouse including air quality problems, lack of accessibility for people with disabilities, and lack of space for the integrity of judges, public, staff and prisoners.  The new courthouse will address confidentiality, health and security concerns.  The Kent County Courthouse will contain over 13,000 square feet of interior space including four floors above grade and one partial floor below grade.  The façade features a 96 foot glass stairwell designed to resemble a sail.  The grounds feature a restored wetlands, through which a covered walkway will provide access from the parking garage to the courthouse for staff and visitors. A secure bridge will connect the parking garage to the main building for access by judges.


In accordance with the guidelines of Rhode Island’s 1% for Public Art Law, a five member art selection panel has been appointed by the State Council on the Arts. It is composed of one representative of the Judiciary of Rhode Island, a representative of the community, two artists selected by the Arts Council, and the project architect. The panel has met to discuss aesthetic and thematic concerns for the project and they have selected sites appropriate for the installation of public art.

In discussing potential sites and artwork, the panel took into account the following issues: 

1) The nature of the work that will take place within the building.  The courthouse is the site of a constant flow of tension, anxiety, fear and anger.  Conversely, the courthouse can also be a place of great joy, for example, in cases of adoption or cases that bring mutual satisfaction through mediation.   Artwork should take into account the human dramas that unfold daily within the courthouse, as well as the pressures that judges and staff undergo working in this environment.  The architecture intends to convey a sense of dignity for all who enter it, yet it retains the feeling of a formal place of important business.  Likewise, artwork is sought that may bring relief, clarity or diversion to the viewer while remaining respectful of the seriousness of the location.

2) The Principles that the Judiciary Wishes to Promote and Convey. The 2005 Mission Statement of the Judiciary is, “Building a legacy of justice for future generations.”  This statement refers to the goals of Chief Justice Frank J. Williams to create a judiciary that is progressive, independent, open and serves the public.  The architecture of the building attempts to convey these principles through its transparency and the relaxing of rigid models in its design.  Likewise, artwork is sought that is contemporary and refreshing, yet evokes a sense of dignity and democracy.

3) The selection of sites conducive to the display of artwork.  There are several possible sites for artwork in and around the building.  Each of these sites represents an opportunity for artists to utilize the abundance of natural light that is inherent in the building design as well as the natural features of the wetlands.  Artists are encouraged to consider large installations as well as potential placement of smaller works.  Artists who create digital or multi-media works are also encouraged to apply. 


$370,000 is available to acquire art for the Kent County Courthouse. This amount must cover all costs of the artwork including artist fees, fabrication, installation, and transportation of the art, as well as all site work required for fabrication and installation. If more than one work of art by one or more artists is selected, all expenses for all work must fall within the allotted budget.  The Art Selection Panel seeks to cluster multiple, related artworks within several of the designated sites. The added expense of creating and installing multiple pieces for these designated spaces should be taken into account.


This Call for Artists is the first stage of the selection process. The deadline for artists interested in the project to apply is November 8, 2005.  Visual artists are invited to submit samples of their work and their CV/resumes for consideration. Six (6) images may be posted to your CaFE application (please do not present more than one view of artwork per image, details can be on a separate image.) From this group the panel will select between three and five (3-5) finalists. These finalists will be invited to submit specific proposals, in person, to the Art Selection Panel based upon the Request for Proposals. Final proposals should convey artists’ ideas and plans through designs, renderings and/or scale models with a statement that describes the project’s intent, proposed materials, fabrication and installation methods, and a preliminary budget. The finalists will be provided with a briefing package that includes plans, photographs, and specific information about this judicial center. A site visit will be scheduled for the finalists as well as a meeting with the architect and building administrators.  An honorarium of $1,500 will be awarded to the finalists upon submission of their proposals. Proposals will remain the property of the artist. However, RISCA reserves the right to retain each proposal for up to one year for display purposes and the right to reproduce final proposals for documentation and public information purposes. The Public Art Selection Panel reserves the right to determine which proposals will be funded and the extent of funding for each commission and installation. The panel also reserves the right to not accept any final proposal submitted. When the Art Selection Panel makes a final recommendation to the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (which has final approval) for the purchase of artwork, the selected artist/s will enter into contract with the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. The accepted artwork will be owned and maintained by the State of Rhode Island.


The panel will make the selection based on the following criteria:

  • Quality and suitability of the final proposal in relation to the project description, program goals and site descriptions.
  • The artist’s ability to carry out the commission, to keep the project within budget, and to complete and install the work on schedule.
  • Permanence and durability of materials in a heavily used public facility. All artwork must meet safety standards, adhere to building codes and other state regulations.  Artworks must be durable and require minimal maintenance.
  • Willingness of the artist to consult with the architect, construction manager and building staff (or designated representatives) to assure smooth integration of the artwork into the building the site and to make necessary adjustments in relation to building codes and other construction issues.


This is an open invitation to all visual artists. Applications may be submitted individually or in collaboration with others. The panel will not discriminate against any applicant artist on the basis of age, race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, national origin or physical challenges. Excluded from participation are RISCA Council members, staff and their family members as well as Art Selection Panel Members and their family members.


The Art Selection Panel has identified five (5) potential sites for the installation of public art on the site of the new courthouse.  Four are external to the building and two are within publicly accessible areas inside of the building. 

  1. Procession from the Parking Lot to the Front Door

view of procession from parking garageThe parking garage for the new Kent County Courthouse is a separate building with a secure bridge linking it to the courthouse for judges and a covered walkway that shelters a path to the courthouse through restored wetlands for public access.  This procession to the courthouse represents several opportunities for artwork that could provide an experience of reflection and decompression for visitors to the building.  Entering a courthouse can be a tense and anxiety-provoking experience.  Artwork that includes elements such as water or that emphasizes the surrounding wetlands could be a welcome addition to the public experience of the new Courthouse.  This public procession is 160' long and 8' wide.  Artwork could be applied to the underside of the covered walkway; art objects could be placed within the wetlands; serial sculptures or a treatment to the walkway railings could lead visitors into the courthouse.  The panel is open to all creative solutions presented by artists for this outside area.  The panel is also interested in proposals that either connect the procession to the front steps of the courthouse, or that contrast the work proposed for the procession, marking a transition from exterior to the more formal interior.  The front doors will feature the emblem of the Rhode Island Judiciary.  Artwork in this location must be durable and weather resistant and the added cost of materials suitable to outdoor works must be considered within the overall budget.   

  1. Entryway, Front Stairs and Elevators

view of model showing entrywayInternal spaces including the front entryway, stairs and elevators represent high-volume traffic areas where people will greet lawyers, partners and family members in preparation for court hearings.  Artwork in these areas, in contrast to artwork outside of the Courthouse, should convey the formality and the seriousness of judicial matters.  These works should evoke notions of dignity and respect within a formal atmosphere. 

  1. Courtyard and Reflecting Pool

view of courtyard areaThe front courtyard and external spaces facing west lend themselves to serving as a respite for staff as well as providing an interesting vantage point of the public art for visitors to the building.  Creative landscaping and a 1,475 square foot reflecting pool will be an inviting oasis from the stresses of judiciary work for Courthouse staff.  Artists are invited to propose artwork for this 11,800 square foot courtyard that might include the design of benches, landscape design, inlaid design within the reflecting pool or some other outdoor installation.  All artwork in this area will be visible from each floor of the courthouse through its uninterrupted glass façade.   Artwork in this location must be durable and weather resistant and the added cost of materials suitable to outdoor works must be considered within the overall budget.   

  1. Courtrooms and Jury Assembly Rooms                  

The jury room is where potential jury members meet and are briefed on what is expected of them as members of a jury.  Many people spend hours in these rooms, waiting to find out if they will be involved in a particular case.  Jury rooms are important spaces for considering issues of justice and fairness in preparation for the serious work of hearing court cases. Likewise, courtrooms are upheld as cornerstones of the democratic process.  Courtrooms represent compelling but sensitive sites for public art.   Artwork proposed for these areas should take into consideration the seriousness of the work that takes place within them.  The courtrooms each have three walls that could hold artwork: two 130 square foot plaster walls divided by two doors and one 65 square foot wall divided by a door.  The panel expressed a desire to encourage artwork in these areas that would provide a sense of history and narrative.  In addition, artists may submit proposals for art installations at the end of the halls (which are 8,750 square feet in their entirety) outside of the courtrooms that would anchor the exterior of the courtrooms and pull visitors towards them.  Artwork ranging from video projection to sculpture or wall treatment could be stationed at the end of the hallway providing a dynamic art experience outside of the formal courtrooms. 

  1. East Façade

The Kent County Courthouse sits with its back to Route 2.  The back end of the building is 22,000 square feet and has been designed with a brickwork pattern that covers about 50% of the flat surface alongside some windows.  However, this highly visible section of the building is essentially nondescript.  Artwork installed on the East side of the building could serve to increase the building’s presence on Route 2 and its image within the community.   


All questions may be addressed by email, letter or fax to Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, Public Art Program, One Capitol Hill, 3rd Floor, Providence, RI 02908, FAX 401.222-3018, EMAIL: cristina@arts.ri.gov.  No phone calls, please.