The AAJ Courthouse POE Toolkit - What You’ll Receive


The AAJ Courthouse POE Toolkit - What You’ll Receive

Erin Persky, Associate AIA, CCHP


The Toolkit includes:

An introduction to post-occupancy evaluations and the goals of this Courthouse Post-Occupancy Evaluation Toolkit. (The first article in this POE series also goes into detail about the origins and purposes of the Toolkit as it pertains to best practices.)

For users who would like to assess energy and environmental performance, ambient conditions such as acoustics or luminance, and/or general sustainability-related topics, a number of recommendations for studies that can be used to supplement this POE Toolkit are provided (if you haven’t yet perused the AAJ Sustainable Justice Committee’s AIA Green Guide to Justice, check it out here):

Detailed instructions for conducting the POE with the toolkit. Included are guidelines for preparation, what to do on-site and when, and how to compile the report. This article from earlier in this POE series provides examples of two of these sections.

Data Gathering Instruments:

The most important part of the toolkit! You’ll receive each of the instruments with instructions for how to complete. The Courthouse Staff Survey is administered online, so you will receive a link to the survey rather than a printable copy (more on this, below). The Plan Review Form, the Building Conditions Tour Form, and the Building Conditions Interview have been designed to be “interactive” - allowing completion directly onto a tablet or laptop.


Plan Review Form: 

What: Aids in documentation of the physical characteristics of and functions within the courthouse building and its site.

Who completes: Design architects for the project.

When this form should be completed: Before the on-site POE, to be used as a reference during the POE. Any missing or ambiguous information can be completed during the on-site POE.


Building Conditions Tour Form: 

What: To evaluate the condition and performance of many features of the materials and systems of the courthouse.

Who completes: the POE team lead assigned to managing the form during the building tour. The entire POE team should attend the tour.

When this form should be completed: Early in the on-site POE.


Building Conditions Interview Form:

What: A follow-up to the Building Conditions Tour, to discuss courthouse features. Consists of seven open-ended questions in addition to follow-up discussion of issues that may have arisen during the building conditions survey tour.

Who completes: One or two members of the POE team with the Facilities Manager.

When this form should be completed: Any time after the facility tour.


Courthouse Staff Survey:

What: assesses the degree to which the design of the courthouse building supports the work-related tasks carried out by courthouse staff. Topics include the courthouse site, building access, staff areas and workspaces, and courtroom functionality.

Who completes: Staff receive this survey via The survey is administered entirely online.

Upon request of the toolkit a link to the survey will also be provided. This link should be forward to the court staff member tasked with emailing the survey to all courthouse staff (during the pilot POE this individual was the Courthouse Operations Manager Secretary). The POE team member who receives the link will be granted administrator privileges and will be able to access survey completions for review during the POE process.

When this form should be completed: The staff survey can be sent at any time during or proximate to the on-site POE.


Courthouse Visitor Survey:

What: assesses the degree to which the design of the courthouse supports the functions people visit the courthouse to accomplish. Topics include the courthouse site, building access, wayfinding, safety, circulation, specific publicly accessible functional areas, the courtroom, and designated jury spaces.

Who completes: Visitors recruited upon entry to the courthouse.

When this form should be completed: The Courthouse Visitor Survey requires the most effort of the data-gathering instruments. Participant recruitment should take place over a minimum of two days of the on-site POE to achieve sufficient participant randomization. Detailed instructions on how to conduct recruitment procedures are provided in the Toolkit.

Appendices, including a POE Preparation Checklist to ensure all necessary planning and coordination tasks are handled before commencement of the on-site POE; and examples of how to compile the POE results (examples can also be found in this earlier article in the POE series).

The POE Toolkit is part of a broad effort by the AIA to disseminate knowledge pertaining to best practices in justice facility design. As such, Toolkit users will be asked to agree in advance to share their data and findings. The results, anonymous and aggregated, will contribute to a database of information about courthouse design that will inform substantial improvement in the field and allow researchers to examine the relationships among physical variables of courthouse design and their outcomes.  


POE Toolkit development has been a long and rewarding process. We are very excited to share this product. Please direct any questions to me, Erin Persky at

Erin Persky is a facility planner specializing in civic and justice architecture. Mrs. Persky provides services integral to the development of architectural programs, needs assessments, feasibility studies, design-build criteria documents, and Post-Occupancy Evaluations.