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GSA, judiciary break ground on Los Angeles' new sustainable courthouse

By Traci Madison

Construction project signage for the new Los Angeles United States Courthouse
“We are extremely excited to begin construction on this new courthouse,” said GSA Regional Administrator Ruth Cox.

GSA officially broke ground on a new sustainable, secure, and cost-effective U.S. Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles on August 8, 2013. GSA, tenant agencies, contractors, and the city staffs came together to not only celebrate the start of construction but also to acknowledge the long path to making this courthouse a reality and the key supporters along the way. Speakers at the event included: Regional Administrator Ruth Cox; Mayor Eric Garcetti; U.S. Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard; Chief Judge George King; Judge Margaret Morrow; Richard Heim, President and CEO, Clark Construction Group/California; and Craig Hartman, Design Partner, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP.

“We are extremely excited to begin construction on this new courthouse,” said GSA Regional Administrator Ruth Cox. “Today’s event is a major step forward in fulfilling our obligation to the Judiciary for a new courthouse that addresses their long-standing security and space needs in Los Angeles.”

GSA awarded a design-build contract to Clark Construction Group and design partner Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP (SOM) in December 2012. The approx. 600,000 gsf facility will include 24 courtrooms and 32 judicial chambers and will house the U.S. District Court, Central District of California; meet related needs of the U.S. Marshals Service; and provide trial preparation space for the U.S. Attorneys’ Office and the Federal Public Defender. The team’s design, referred to as the “Cube” because of its shape, includes an innovative structural engineering concept that allows the cubic courthouse volume to appear to float over its stone base while being one of the nation’s safest buildings.

“The shape of this courthouse, through its simplicity and luminous, Euclidean clarity, will define its role as an important and timeless civic addition to Los Angeles’ governmental precinct,” said Craig Hartman. “Its gardens, courtyards and civic plaza - accessible to all - will convey a generous sense of public-spiritedness. Equally important, its high performance design responds directly the crisis of 21st century resource depletion and related environmental challenges.”

Striving to achieve GSA Design Excellence and create a high performance green building, the Clark/SOM team incorporated a number of sustainable principles into the project. The courthouse’s serrated façade is designed to achieve a north to south orientation that will maximize daylight harvesting and views, while reducing solar heat gain by 47 percent. The facility will boast a 225 kW combined cooling, heating and power system, and a 400 kW roof-mounted photovoltaic array that will produce 525,000 kWh annually. Additionally, the high efficiency building systems, water-efficient fixtures, and advanced irrigation systems will help the building meet its energy and water conservation goals. With these and other sustainability features, the new courthouse will not only conserve critical resources and protect our environment, but also realize energy cost savings for years to come.

This target LEED® Platinum courthouse uniquely responds to its downtown location and will join a neighborhood of important, modern Los Angeles buildings, such as the Disney Concert Hall, the Los Angeles Cathedral, Caltrans and Los Angeles Police Department, while simultaneously joining a respected portfolio of GSA Design Excellence buildings.

The new U.S. Courthouse project will not only contribute to the ongoing revival of the Civic Center, it will also help boost the city’s economy by creating new jobs in the construction industry and providing vast opportunities for local small businesses. With a subcontracting outreach event planned for August 15, 2013, the team is striving to achieve an aggressive 52 percent small business subcontracting goal.

"I'm happy to see construction beginning on the new Los Angeles Federal Courthouse," said Mayor Eric Garcetti. "Our federal court is among the busiest in the country, and we are greatly in need of a new courthouse. This project will create thousands of jobs and turn an empty lot into an important part of the Civic Center cityscape."

Cox closed the event by thanking our congressional representatives, the Mayor and our major stakeholders for their staunch support over the years. She acknowledged Clark Construction, SOM and construction manager, Jacobs for the effort so far and the work that’s on the horizon. She also gave thanks to the many GSA staff members who have played a significant role in the project.

The new Los Angeles Courthouse is scheduled for completion in summer of 2016.

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