Arup's Innovative Design of U.S. Federal Courthouse San Diego Meets Goals of GSA Excellence Program

Courthouse meets building requirements for the next 30 years; sets new standards for courthouse security

Jun 28, 2013, 16:35 ET from Arup

LOS ANGELES, June 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Arup, a multidisciplinary engineering and consulting firm with a reputation for delivering innovative and sustainable designs, announced today that it collaborated with Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP on the design of the United States Federal Courthouse in San Diego, Calif. Owned by the General Services Administration (GSA), the $382M, 470,000 GSF courthouse was completed in November, 2012; with the dedication taking place in April 2013. Arup provided mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) design, and utilized its SoundLab technology to create an acoustic model for the courtrooms. The firm also provided LEED administration services for the courthouse, which is expected to achieve LEED® Gold certification. Designed and built under the GSA's Design Excellence Program, the project benefits from the GSA's Art in Architecture program, and serves as a focal point for the residents of San Diego.

(Photo: )

The GSA manages the design process for federal construction projects and its Design Excellence Program involves a two-step architect/engineer selection process. Arup was selected with Richard Meier & Partners Architects to design the 16-story-high federal courthouse that houses six district courtrooms and judicial chambers for 12 judges and magistrate judges, a 24-cell detention center with interview rooms, secure corridors and a squad room for U.S. District Courts, Pre-trial Services, the U.S. Marshals Services, and the GSA. The courthouse is located near several other federal and local government buildings, creating a campus-like civic plaza that includes pedestrian access, landscaping, artwork, and a water feature.

Arup's design for the courthouse meets building requirements for the next 30 years and incorporates sustainable features such as narrow floor plates to optimize natural daylight and high-performance glazing and exterior shading to reduce solar heat gains.

Working closely with the GSA and the U.S. Marshals to design a secure facility, Arup took advantage of San Diego's natural climate and mild temperatures to naturally ventilate and light the building, while keeping security top of mind throughout its design. From a security perspective, the building is kept closed and pressurized to protect against the release of a chemical or biological attack. Based on a daylighting model developed by Arup, it was decided the courthouse could operate on natural light 60% of the time, while only 10% of the building requires artificial light.

Project team members include:

  • Project Owner: General Services Administration
  • Architect: Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP
  • LEED & Sustainability Consultant: Arup
  • General Contractor: Hensel Phelps Construction Co.
  • Construction Manager: Jacobs Engineering
  • Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing Designer: Arup
  • Structural Engineer: Englekirk & Sabol Inc.

Arup recently completed the San Francisco Federal Building, as well as the San Jose City Hall, which was also designed by Richard Meier & Partners.

About Arup
Arup is the creative force at the heart of many of the world's most prominent projects in the built environment and across industry. Its engineers and consultants deliver innovative projects across the world. Arup opened its first US office 25 years ago, and now employs 1,000 in the Americas. The firm was founded in 1946 with an enduring set of values that fosters a distinctive culture, intellectual independence and collaborative approach. The people at Arup are driven to find a better way to deliver better solutions for their clients. (

Media Contacts

Susan Shelby, FSMPS, CPSM

Rebecca Maloney, LEED AP, CPSM

Rhino Public Relations