ASCE Recognizes New United States Courthouse in L.A. as OCEA Finalist

February 19, 2019

Everything purposeful about the new United States Courthouse is right there in its shape. Resembling a floating, translucent cube, it might give the statement “see you in court” a whole new meaning.

Meeting ambitious energy goals, matching function to form, and harnessing the strong sunlight of Southern California, the Courthouse, in downtown Los Angeles, has been honored by ASCE as a finalist for the 2019 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement award, the Society’s preeminent project honor.

All five OCEA finalists will be recognized at ASCE’s 2019 OPAL Gala, March 14, in Arlington, VA, with the OCEA winner revealed at the end of the event.

The design of the structure achieves modernity of spirit while acknowledging roots in the classical principles of federal architecture. There are processional steps, grand public spaces, and enduring materials such as limestone all proclaiming its civic identity. Elevated above a large plaza, the 10-story building also mitigates blast threats by using a novel truss system to increase the standoff between the perimeter and the primary structure.

The Courthouse’s scheme represents the rational convergence of the project influences: site, program, sustainability, budget, security, and the desire to create a building that appropriately portrays the values of the American judicial system. As well, its cantilevered glass volume above the stone base, and an exterior articulated by a deep triangulated assembly of glass with integrated solar screens, create the lightness and luminosity suited to a 21st century courthouse building.

That building, located prominently in the city’s Civic Center neighborhood, houses 24 courtrooms and 32 judicial chambers. It seats the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California, accommodates the U.S. Marshals Services, and provides trial preparation space for the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Federal Public Defender.

To manage expectations and satisfy concerns, the team went to great lengths working with all end-users, even constructing a full-size mockup of a typical courtroom in the process.

The new United States Courthouse is certified LEED Platinum, meeting owner Government Services Administration’s 2020 energy target of 35 kBTU/GSF annual consumption through a variety of features. And its flexible design allows the facility to adopt the use of biomass materials so that one day it can reach net-zero energy.

Learn more about the 2019 OPAL Gala.

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