New United States Courthouse - Los Angeles

Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

Location: Los Angeles

Awarded a publish

The courthouse design represents the rational convergence of the project influences: site, program, budget, sustainability, security, and the desire to create a building that appropriately represents the values of the American judicial system.

The building's architectural expression is an inextricable union of site orientation and topography, functionality, environmental performance, civic form and democratic principles that honor the public realm.

"The courtrooms are glowing with well-distributed natural light, and creative strategies such as the light-shelf within the restricted corridor. This is a dynamic solution for what looks to be a very difficult site: the simple form and the lifted volume provides a solution for managing many variables." ~ Jury comments

The new building houses 24 courtrooms and 32 judicial chambers, and is located on a prominent block in downtown Los Angeles. The project strengthens the definition of its Civic Center setting and reinforces the pedestrian network of this downtown district.   The design creates a building that optimizes function, energy use, security, and cost, through a compact, platonic solid, building form. An innovative hat-truss structure allows this cubic form to "float" above a stone base, opening up new public spaces while allowing the steeply sloping natural topography to slip under the building with a strong sculptural presence.

This powerful composition and the generosity of its public spaces gives the project a clear civic presence, separating it from its commercial neighbors.   The building uses traditional architectural elements, such as processional steps, grand public spaces, and enduring materials - limestone, white marble and oak - to further its civic presence. Its exterior architecture is articulated by a deep triangulated assembly of glass with an integrated system of solar screens that create the lightness and luminosity appropriate to a 21st Century American courthouse building, while providing extraordinary environmental performance.

The courthouse's exterior courtyard lies within the secure confines of the courthouse, accessible to users of the building. It provides an open-space amenity for Courthouse occupants - a place where people can work outdoors, take advantage of the local climate, meet, eat or find a moment of respite from the often stressful proceedings of the courts.

Additional information

Accessibility: AA Architecture

Acoustics: Newson Brown Acoustics LLC

Architecture, Interior Design, Structural Engineering, Graphics: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP  Design Build Partner/General Contractor: Clark Construction Group, LLC

Blast: Applied Research Associates  

Civil Engineer: Psomas

Courts Planning, LEED and Security: AECOM  

Elevators: Lerch Bates Inc.

Fire Life Safety: Jensen Hughes

Food Service: Cini Little International, Inc.

Geotechnical Engineer: Haley & Aldrich

Interior Planning Branding and Graphics: Page/Dyal

Landscape: Mia Lehrer + Associates

Lighting: HLB Lighting Design

Mechanical Electrical Engineer: Syska Hennessy Group Inc.

Photographer: Bruce Damonte, David Lena and John Gaylord

Plumbing Engineer: Southcoast Engineering Group, Inc.


Mallory Scott Cusenbery, AIA (Chair), RossDrulisCusenbery, Sonoma, California

Hon. Celeste F. Bremer, United States District Court | Southern District of Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa

Michael Cox, AIA, Wold Architects and Engineers, Saint Paul, Minnesota

Julian Jaffary, B.Arch, OAA, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Thomas Pulaski, Prince William County Police Department, Woodbridge, Virginia

Arthur Thompson, AIA, SMRT, Portland, Maine

Charles W. Wend, Mount Vernon, Washington

Image credits


Bruce Damonte



Bruce Damonte


Bruce Damonte