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GSA commemorates two major milestones with ceremony

By Erika Snider

Officials cut the ribbon opening the U.S. Courthouse San Diego
GSA Pacific Rim Regional Administrator Ruth Cox cuts the ribbon officially opening the U.S. Courthouse San Diego.

On April 19, the Pacific Rim Region hosted a celebration to commemorate two significant milestones: the official ribbon cutting of the new U.S. Courthouse San Diego 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.

Held in the new courthouse Jury Assembly Room, the event kicked off with the presentation of the colors by the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Color Guard and the performance of the National Anthem by the Marine Band San Diego.

With Regional Administrator Ruth Cox serving as Master of Ceremonies, the event featured speeches from various federal representatives and local stakeholders. Among them were U.S. Representative Scott Peters, U.S. Representative Susan Davis, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Chief Judge Laura Taylor, and architect Michael Palladino of Richard Meier & Partners.

Chief Judge Moskowitz shared the stage with fellow judges Irma Gonzalez and Marilyn Huff, all of whom served as chief judge during the lifespan of the new courthouse project. Each spoke about the significance of these two buildings to San Diego and the judiciary.

"One hundred years ago, San Diego dedicated our first federal courthouse,” said Judge Moskowitz. “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."

Judge Gonzalez acknowledged the dedication and hard work shown by of GSA’s project team and singled out San Diego Courthouse Project Manager Mario Ramirez as the "heart and soul of GSA".

Designed by Richard Meier & Partners Architects and built by Hensel Phelps Construction, the new U.S. Courthouse is now home to the U.S. District Court, 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.

In order to achieve GSA Design Excellence, a number of green principles were incorporated into the project. Natural day-lighting and ventilation, high-efficiency building systems, water-efficient fixtures, and advanced irrigation systems will help the facility 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.

"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. Originally known as the U.S. Post Office and Customs House, the Weinberger building was the first permanent federal building constructed in San Diego.

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. In 1994, GSA renovated the courthouse and restored its historic lobby and main courtroom to their original 1913 beauty.

“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!”

As the event drew to a close, Cox thanked Richard Meier & Partners Architects for their incredible design; Hensel Phelps Construction, our general contractor, for building a state-of-the art facility; and Jacobs Project Management, our construction manager, for ensuring all aspects of the project were integrated smoothly. She also recognized some of the many dedicated GSA professionals who worked on the project.

Traci Madison contributed to this report.

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