The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), U.S. District Court, Central District of California and federal, state, and local leaders celebrated the completion of a new sustainable and cost-effective federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles last week. The new U.S. Courthouse, located at 350 W. 1st Street, is now home to the U.S. District Court, the U.S. Marshals Service and GSA, and provides trial preparation space for the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Federal Public Defender.
Known as the “Cube” because of its distinctive shape, the 10-story, 633,000 square foot facility features 24 courtrooms and 32 judicial chambers.
Due to its location, seismic design was a key consideration when it came to the structural engineering of the building. The design also includes a structural engineering concept that allows the cubic courthouse volume to appear to float over its stone base while being one of the nation’s safest buildings.
“This building demonstrates our agency’s commitment to supporting our federal partners while also helping drive community prosperity. GSA leverages the federal presence in localities to maximize municipal and regional economic development, while promoting competition and getting better outcomes for the federal government,” said GSA Administrator Denise Turner Roth. “This courthouse project took advantage of favorable market conditions; recognized substantial savings for taxpayers; created jobs and delivered a state-of-the-art courthouse that embodies the principles and ideals of our democracy, which I know Californians and all Americans will be proud of.”
The courthouse was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) and constructed by Clark Construction Group-California LP under GSA’s Design Excellence Program which provides advocacy for quality in the federal built environment and incorporates the best architectural practices and latest sustainable technologies.
“America’s civic buildings offer a permanent record of our democracy’s values, challenges and aspirations,” said Craig Hartman, FAIA, senior consulting design partner with SOM. “The great challenge in the design of a 21st century federal courthouse is creating a work of architecture that authentically represents the fair and impartial rule of law in our contemporary civil society. It has been my great privilege to work with an extraordinarily gifted team of architects, builders, judges and members of the GSA in creating a building that embodies that important work through Euclidean clarity, transparency, lightness, luminosity and timeless materials.”
Syska Hennessy Group, Inc., a global consulting, engineering and commissioning firm, provided engineering services for the new U.S. courthouse. The firm provided critical systems engineering consulting and design services for the project, which was more than four years in the making. The firm worked alongside the team that included SOM and Clark Construction.
Energy Efficiency, LEED Certification Pursued
The entire design team successfully committed to achieving dynamic building sustainability and energy performance goals for the courthouse in a cost-effective way. The property is targeting LEED Platinum certification and an energy target of 35K/KBTU/GSF annual consumption through some of its energy efficient attributes, and these include:
- A serrated façade comprised of 1,672 energy efficient glass panels, designed to achieve a north to south orientation and to maximize daylight penetration and views, and reducing solar heat gain by nearly 50%
- Substantial daylighting for the building spaces including the courtrooms and jury deliberation rooms
- An open central light court with tuned skylight delivering daylight into the heart of the building, coupled with reflectors to enhance shared natural light
- A rooftop photovoltaic array that is expected to generate 525,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) each year
- High efficiency building systems; a 105,000 gallon cistern; water efficient fixtures, and advanced irrigation systems that will help the building meet its energy and water conservation goals
- Drought tolerant landscaping of the entire plaza
“It was a privilege to have played a key role in bringing this state-of-the-art courthouse facility to life,” said Robert Bolin, senior principal at Syska Hennessy Group. “The entire project team set out to make a ‘100 year’ building that would serve as a sustainable design blueprint for other civic properties in both Los Angeles and across the country. We are incredibly proud of the contributions we made towards the success of this unique development, which will also serve as another important step in helping Los Angeles secure a clean energy future.”
“GSA is committed to designing and constructing world-class, environmentally responsible buildings in which the federal government conducts business safely and serves the public effectively,” said Dan Brown, GSA’s Pacific Rim regional commissioner for public buildings service. “This new courthouse is not only a beautiful gleaming addition to our respected Design Excellence buildings portfolio and the Los Angeles skyline, but its design also seamlessly integrates components of energy efficiency, outstanding court and jury facilities, and engaging public spaces.”
The completion of this courthouse is the first major step in GSA’s three-pronged approach to achieving an enhanced and efficient footprint for the U.S. District Courts in Los Angeles and consolidates many of the functions that were previously divided across multiple facilities.