GSA Marks Grand Opening of San Diego’s New Sustainable Courthouse and Celebrates Weinberger Courthouse Centennial
April 19, 2013
SAN DIEGO – Today, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), U.S. District and Bankruptcy Courts, and state and city leaders gathered to commemorate two significant milestones: the official ribbon cutting of the new San Diego U.S. Courthouse and the centennial celebration of the Jacob Weinberger U.S. Courthouse. Located in the heart of downtown San Diego, these two courthouses represent both the past and future of the judiciary in this important border city.
“A critical part of GSA’s mission is to provide federal agencies and the American people, the best value in real estate,” said Ruth Cox, GSA’s Pacific Rim Regional Administrator. “We provide our nation’s judiciary with the courthouses in which our laws are upheld, and from which justice is delivered.”
The celebration honored two very different facilities: One that was built as the city of San Diego was growing in prominence; and, another that embodies sustainable principles which will not only conserve critical resources and protect our environment, but also realize energy cost savings for years to come. Although divergent in architectural design and style, both courthouses play a significant role in the federal justice system in San Diego.
"One hundred years ago, San Diego dedicated our first federal courthouse,” said Barry Ted Moskowitz, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court. “The Weinberger Courthouse has, and continues to serve, the community well. Today, we dedicate our newest courthouse. This superb building was designed to serve the community for the next one hundred years and beyond."
Designed by Richard Meier & Partners Architects and built by Hensel Phelps Construction, the new U.S. Courthouse was built to meet the increasing workload of the region’s federal court system while enhancing the downtown business core and adjacent residential communities. It’s now home to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California as well as the U.S. Marshals Service, Clerk of Court, Pretrial Services Division, Internal Revenue Service and GSA. With six courtrooms and 12 chambers, the $382 million construction project integrates new and existing federal buildings with gardens, a water feature and pedestrian paths. Thousands of federal civilian employees are now evenly distributed between it and the adjacent Edward J. Schwartz Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse.
The courthouse design is a svelte and elegant 16-story tower that rises above a transparent and translucent building base. In order to achieve GSA Design Excellence and create a sustainable courthouse, a number of green principles were incorporated into the project. The courthouse's exquisite glass facade allows for the maximum use of natural day-lighting throughout the building and in the courtrooms. Some floors within the building also allow for natural ventilation, taking advantage of San Diego's temperate climate. Additionally, the high-efficiency building systems, water-efficient fixtures, and advanced irrigation systems will help the building meet its energy and water conservation goals. As a result, the courthouse is projected to achieve a LEED® Gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council for its use of energy-efficient features and other sustainable design principles.
"The new San Diego Courthouse is not only a beautiful gleaming addition to the federal complex in San Diego, but its design seamlessly integrates components of energy efficiency, outstanding court and jury facilities, and engaging public spaces,” said Cox.
Located within blocks of the new courthouse is the historic Jacob Weinberger U.S. Courthouse, home of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of California. Today’s event also celebrated its 100th anniversary and long history with the residents of San Diego. The Weinberger Courthouse, a 1913 landmark, masterfully melds two distinct architectural styles – Monumental Classicism and Spanish Colonial revival - in a public building that speaks of San Diego’s Hispanic heritage and its ambitions as an American city.
The Weinberger U.S. Courthouse, originally known as the U.S. Post Office and Customs House, was the first permanent federal building constructed in San Diego. At that time, it also housed the U.S. District Court, Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), and the U.S. Weather Bureau. Through the years, the building’s use has changed to support the needs of the federal government. The U.S. Post Office relocated to a new facility and a new federal complex was constructed, leaving this U.S. Courthouse abandoned for almost a decade.
In 1985, historic preservation champions campaigned to restore the building and in 1988, the U.S. Courthouse was renamed in honor of Judge Jacob Weinberger, San Diego’s first resident federal judge. GSA renovated the courthouse and restored its historic lobby and main courtroom to their original 1913 beauty in 1994.
“The Weinberger Courthouse represents the best of our community and country: 100 years of justice, progress, and national and community strength of character; a commitment to preservation of our history; and a dedication to maintaining the productive use of our national treasures,” said U.S. Bankruptcy Court Chief Judge Laura Taylor. “Long may it stand!”
Speakers at the celebration event included: Ruth Cox, GSA Pacific Rim Regional Administrator; Representative Scott Peters; Representative Susan Davis; Mayor Bob Filner; Chief Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz, U.S. District Court; Chief Judge Laura Taylor, U.S. Bankruptcy Court; and Mr. Michael Palladino, Design Partner for Richard Meier & Partners Architects.