Superior Court of California - San Diego
Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
Location: San Diego
Awarded a citation
The new Superior Court of California San Diego consolidates San Diego County's criminal trial, family, civil, and probate courts into a 24-story downtown tower.
The building advances the high-rise court house typology with a design that allows for critical future flexibilities through a carefully designed structural system. In the spirit of civic buildings with a strong but accommodating presence, the design integrates this formal repertoire with a language of robust subtractive massing that encloses a secure and welcoming interior.
"There is flexibility in the overall planning: jury deliberation converts to a chamber, courtrooms facilitate both criminal or family. This building is visually captivating from the first glance. The luminous design of the canopy is captivating, and the tower offers a handsome profile on the skyline. " ~ Jury comments
The courthouse comprises a tower and podium clad in precast concrete, as well as a public plaza. Located on a former brownfield at the intersection of Union and C Streets, the project is designed as a catalyst for an emerging government district. The first four levels of the courthouse support high volume functions of the court, including arraignment courts, misdemeanor courts, offices, and a 500 person jury assembly hall. These functions are serviced by a cascading stair and escalator along a three-story lobby.
On its exterior, the courthouse features a distinctive soffit at its crown. With shaped aluminum panel sections, the soffit shades the building during the morning hours. It also captures and dynamically reflects southern and western light back onto the underside of the structure's surface. Both practical and symbolic, this luminous design feature celebrates the San Diego skyline.