Houston, United States
As the most significant single building project to occur in San Bernardino in decades, the Justice Center bridges the scales of downtown development to unify the urban fabric, creating a visible landmark for the city while engaging the public with vibrant open space. The new building improves the efficiency of the courts by consolidating functions that had previously been spread across 12 different buildings throughout the county. The facility is not just a model for future development in the city. As the largest project in the first phase of new courts in California, it establishes a new direction for the design of large-scale judicial facilities across the state.
The complex occupies a total of 361,700 square feet on a seven-acre site. The project consists of two building elements: an 11-story courtroom tower visible on the skyline, and a linear, three-story podium that holds the street edge and correlates to the scale of an adjacent historic courthouse. The building’s main entrance — a three-story public lobby — serves as the threshold between the openness of the city and the security of the court. The building’s 35 courtrooms are stacked into an efficient 200-foot-tall tower. Each tower level contains four courtrooms, with public circulation occurring behind a glass facade on the north. The complex also features spaces for court administration, self-help, jury services, child care, and sheriff’s operations and holding.
Located within a region of high seismicity and in close proximity to active and potentially active earthquake faults, including the San Jacinto and San Andreas faults, the 11-story structure is the first and tallest newly built base-isolated court building in California. The highest level of care was given to the design and construction of the structure to elevate its long-term resiliency.
Originally targeting LEED® Silver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council, the courthouse achieved LEED® Gold certification at no added cost. The design solution carefully considers orientation, shading, material selection, and landscaping so that the building will thrive and remain efficient within its desert environment.