New United States Courthouse – Los Angeles
Winner - Spark!
Designer: Craig W. Hartman - Design Partner
Design Type: Public architecture
Company / Organization / School: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
Team Members: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP – Michael Mann, FAIA, Managing Director – Paul Danna, FAIA, Design Director – José Luis Palacios, AIA, Design Director – Mark Sarkisian, PE, SE, LEED® AP, Structural and Seismic Engineering Partner – Keith Boswell, FAIA, Technical Partner – Susan Bartley, AIA, LEED® AP, Project Manager Clark Construction Group, Design-Build Partner and General Contractor General Services Administration (GSA), Owner
Located on a prominent block in downtown Los Angeles, the New United States Courthouse’s design has a strong civic presence rooted in classic principles and is driven by environmental performance and sustainable strategies. Targeted to achieve a LEED® Platinum certification and currently under construction, the building’s pleated glass envelope uniquely responds to its location. SOM conceived the facade in response to the street grid of downtown Los Angeles, which is rotated 38 degrees from a true north–south axis. Because the courthouse aligns with the street grid, transparent panels in north- and south-facing pleats maximize daylight penetration, while opaque and semi-transparent panels in east- and west-facing pleats minimize solar thermal gain. This strategy reduces central plant load by nine percent, while lending visual dimension to the facade. SOM optimized daylighting inside the courthouse by locating major spaces like courtrooms and jury deliberation rooms at the building perimeter. In addition, each floor is organized around a central space whose monumental skylight delivers daylight into the heart of the building — and provides a second source of natural illumination for the courtrooms. The building also harnesses the benefits of natural light though the use of a roof-top mounted photovoltaic array.