The new SOM-designed United States Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles has been awarded LEED® Platinum certification. LEED®, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, certification is an official recognition of a project's compliance with sustainability standards created and maintained by the U.S. Green Building Council®. The program is administered by Green Business Certification Inc., with LEED® Platinum the program's highest level ranking.
Located on a prominent block in the city's Civic Center neighborhood, the 10-story, 633,000-square-foot building contains 24 courtrooms and 32 judicial chambers. It houses the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California, accommodates the needs of the U.S. Marshals Service, and provides trial preparation space for the U.S. Attorneys’ Office and Federal Public Defender.
Sustainability was a driving factor for the courthouse from the beginning. The building was designed to achieve LEED® Platinum certification and meet the GSA’s 2020 energy objective. It incorporates a variety of sustainable design features, including a rooftop photovoltaic array that is intended to generate 507,000 kWh of renewable energy on an annual basis.
Perhaps the most visible sustainable design feature of the courthouse is the facade—a solution that gracefully responds to the conditions of the site. A key challenge for the design team was to manage intense sun exposure from the east and west while maintaining the building's alignment with the street grid. SOM's pleated facade design minimizes solar impact by aligning planes of glass toward the north and south, while also maximizing natural daylight inside the courthouse. This design reduces annual solar radiation load by 47 percent, and decreases central plant load by 9 percent.
About Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) is one of the leading architecture, interior design, engineering, and urban planning firms in the world. Since its founding more than 80 years ago, SOM has earned a reputation for design excellence with a portfolio that includes some of the most important architectural accomplishments of the 20th and 21st centuries, and has been a leader in the research and development of specialized technologies, new processes and innovative ideas, many of which have had a palpable and lasting impact on the design profession and the physical environment. The firm’s longstanding leadership in design and building technology has been honored with nearly 2,000 awards for quality, innovation, and management. The American Institute of Architects has recognized SOM twice with its highest honor, the Architecture Firm Award—in 1962 and again in 1996. The firm maintains offices in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Dubai, and Mumbai.