San Diego Breaks Ground on Courthouse

SAN DIEGO — San Diego broke ground in March on the new $555 million San Diego Central Courthouse — one of the most expensive public office building ever and the largest to be funded by California’s Senate Bill 1407. Increased court fines and fees will fund the project.
The 704,000-square-foot project will consolidate several downtown facilities such as the County, Family and Madge Bradley courthouses that have been deemed overcrowded, unsafe and inadequate for operations. The project has been in the works since 1996 when the city initially started discussions about replacing the county courthouse, which opened 53 years ago. The replacement project is necessary because the current county courthouse is situated on a major earthquake fault that makes the building unsafe and expensive to renovate.
The new 22-story courthouse has a less conventional design than other courthouses that typically feature Classical columns and bell towers. The skyscraper will feature 71 courtrooms and about 40 multiple-occupancy cells, as well as significant improvements in security such as a sally port for inmate transfers to the San Diego County Central Jail and improved access for county residents. The design pays homage to San Diego’s maritime history with sail-like metal panels that capture light, reported The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Designed to achieve LEED Silver certification, the new facility includes several sustainable features such as electric vehicle charging stations and showers and changing rooms to encourage bike commuters. It will also feature several daylighting techniques as well as a three-story lobby atrium that will connect via a pedestrian bridge to the nearby Hall of Justice, which will still be used for civil cases.
San Francisco-based firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill is serving as the architect on the project, while Redwood City, Calif.-based Rudolph and Sletten is serving as the construction manager at-risk. Construction is scheduled for completion in 2016. Once completed, the new building will be a major part of the new civic zone in downtown San Diego, part of a long-anticipated plan where city, county, federal and court facilities will all be within walking distance.