Government buildings are constructed in order to conduct the legal and civic affairs of an organized community. Most cities or municipalities have a city hall, a courthouse and a post office. The size and architectural form of each type of government building vary, depending on the size of the community.
The city hall tends to function as the gathering place for locally elected officials and departments of the city, such as a licensing board or finance board.
Architecturally, a city hall usually consists of a large meeting place or hall which can hold a significant number of the city's residents at one time. Different wings or branches hold offices or chambers. The hall can be used for public events, including elections, vaccinations or other seasonal occurrences.
The courthouse is a place where individuals accused of civil or criminal misconduct can be tried, with legal representation, in front of a group of their peers.
Architecturally, a courthouse must consist of at least one courtroom with seating for an audience, a jury box, a judge's podium, a witness stand, a table for the prosecution and defense lawyers, as well as a separate office for the judge and sequestered quarters for the jury. In large cities, the courthouse may have several dozen separate courtrooms, along with separate floors for administrative purposes.
The post office is a building where the town's residents send mail and packages. Most post offices have a separate physical address within city limits. A citizen may acquire a post office box and receive mail directly at the facility.
Architecturally, a post office generally consists of a public counter area where individuals may mail letters or packages by consulting with clerks, a back room where the packages and mail are sorted for delivery, and publicly accessible post office boxes.
- "Architecture, Power, and National Identity"; Lawrence J. Vale; 1992
- "Encyclopedia of Architecture: Design, Engineering & Construction, Volume 1"; Joseph A. Wilkes, Robert T. Packard; 1990
Julia Lai is a frequent contributor to Los Angeles-based arts and literature publications. She graduated from University of California, Los Angeles with a bachelor's degree in history and has been writing professionally since 2008.