Heritage Mural of the Northern District CountiesDesign by Bennett Hall and Helen Rischbieth,
Production by Business Image Group and Eco Framing, Oakland
US District Courts • 19th Floor
Phillip Burton Federal Building
450 Golden Gate, San Francisco
On March 28th 2013, coinciding with the induction of Judge Tigar, we debuted this feature mural, a mosaic representing the legacy of the 15 counties that the United States District Courts Northern District serves. This piece culminated a 10 year project working with the Court under the leadership of Judge Charles Breyer, whose efforts have spearheaded numerous improvements to the Courts facilities. It has been our honor to design and produce these extensive community history exhibits.
"When the public comes to a courthouse, more often than not they don't want to be there," Breyer explains. "They are either tied up in litigation or jurors who are summoned, so it's an unfriendly set of circumstances. I want them, when they are dragooned into our courthouse, to find something that will engage them."
This mural celebrates the rich local history, diversity and achievements of the fifteen countries served by the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California. The Northern District of California encompass fifteen counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Sonoma. These counties are served by four federal courthouses located in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and Eureka.
"Outside the door to the ceremonial courtroom is a wall of 33 images depicting the district, which is mentioned three times in Breyer's job title, and runs through 15 counties from the Oregon border to south of Big Sur" —Sam Whiting, Chronicle
The project was curated, designed and produced locally by Bennett Hall and Helen Rischbieth, principles of Business Image Group. The mural is set into a frame made in Wisconsin using solid cherry wood, also grown in America. The mural is the culmination of a nearly 1000-piece exhibit throughout the U.S. District Courts, Northern District of California, that has been gradually been installed throughout the Bay Area regions facilities in San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland over
the last ten years.
Specifications of Mural
Overall Size: 168" x 46"
Media type: Canvas, printing on z3200 HP 12 color pigment printer
Images are digitally mastered in the studio by Bennett Hall
There are a total of 33 individual canvas, each 14 x 14", wrapped around a stretcher frame, made in our Oakland digital studio, with Eco Shield protective coating
Sign: Cast prismatic bronze 3" letters, made in US by Gemeni
Framing - display
The canvases are fastened to three interlocking leather wrapped backing panels.
Framing around each section is in Cherry wood that was grown in America and milled and finished by the Larson Juhl Company in their Ashland, Wisconsin facilities.
Program BackgroundUnited States District Courts adjudicate matters rooted within the local community that are
governed by federal law, aligning District Courts with the communities they serve.
When it became time to commission decoration for the walls of the Northern District courthouses,
including public corridors and jury rooms, the Courts chose to form this program around this local
community, using its rich heritage as the subject matter. Today, the Northern District courthouses feature displays of local historical photographs providing context and an authentic narrative of the greater San Francisco Bay Area’s legacy. Each image has been carefully selected and grouped, digitally restored, and is accompanied by stories that provide an educational experience.
"You can learn the breadth, the scope and the reach of the court of the Northern District of California," says Breyer. "You get a panorama of the diversity of the region."
See article on program in Chronicle by Sam Whiting, April 2013
The program was the inspiration of the Honorable Judge Charles Breyer, who from inception in 2002 has guided the project, initially focused on enhancing the juror experience in the rooms where deliberations are conducted. Local historical photography drawn from dozens of sources, with accompanying educational narratives, was selected as the theme. The program presently covers all the public spaces of the Bay Area region courts, juror rooms and most of the chambers areas with content depicting our local heritage.
"Since 2002, we have had the honor of serving the Northern District of the United States District Court by producing an exhibit program featuring the history of the local community the Court serves. Historical photography with educational narratives that celebrate the heritage of each county in the District is installed throughout public spaces, jury rooms, jury assembly, meeting rooms, conference rooms, judicial corridors and clerk’s offices. Each piece has been carefully curated, researched, restored, then framed using materials sourced in the US, fabricated in our facilities and installed by our team. The program has helped to optimize the graphical experience of the Courts’ facilities using authentic locally relevant content as the defining element."
Over the last ten years, Bennett Hall, designer and curator of Business Image Group and his partner Helen Rischbieth, have worked with the United States District Courts to provide this local experience for their facilities working with their numerous public historical collections as well as private and their own archives.
This project has been completed during several phases over the past 11 years, covering their facilities in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose. The program is ongoing with additional refinements to ensure the the best representation of the Counties in respective facilities. In 2014, the program will be expanded to include the new Federal Courthouse under construction in Eureka/McKinleyville.
No public funds were used in this program.
US District Court Heritage Program
San Francisco Bay Area • Community History exhibits, 2002-2013
US District Court Program in Oakland
History of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties
US District Court Program in San Jose
History of Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Benito Counties
San Francisco Content Libraries