The new United States Courthouse will be located on a prominent block in downtown Los Angeles. The design has a strong civic presence rooted in classic principles and sustainable strategies. Targeted to achieve a LEED Platinum level, the courthouse uniquely responds to its location. The street grid is rotated 38 degrees from a true north/south axis; as a result, the building is aligned with the grid while its envelope, a folded glass curtainwall, is composed of vision and spandrel panels that are rotated 38 degrees. This serrated façade achieves a north/south orientation that maximizes views while reducing solar heat gain by 47%; each plane facing the sun has an embedded solar screen and its adjacent plane, facing away from the sun, is open view glass. The building’s innovative structural concept suspends the cubic volume above its stone base resulting in a high performance and artful response to earthquakes and the threat of explosives.
The plan optimizes the courts program, operations and day-lighting into all major spaces including courtrooms, jury deliberation rooms, judicial chambers and work areas. Each floor is organized around a central Light Court that brings natural illumination into the heart of the building and each courtroom. Public circulation wraps and penetrates the Light Court. Adjacent 2-story volumes, joined by open stairs, provide informal gathering spaces that are visible to and from the street. These relaxed spaces, proposed and developed by the architects, provide a reduced-stress environment for conversation and enhanced opportunities for pre-trial settlements. At ground level a public courtyard provides a place of repose while the entry plaza creates a civic setting for the courthouse within the downtown context. Set in a terraced landscape of indigenous planting, the courthouse will be an enduring example of California civic architecture.