Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, August 25, 2011


Page 3


Courthouse Projects Recognized for Design Excellence


By a MetNews Staff Writer


A recently renovated Fresno courthouse and designs for court facilities in Hollister and Stockton have been recognized for excellence by the design and construction communities.

The Western Council of Construction Consumers, a professional development organization, has selected the B. F. Sisk Courthouse in downtown Fresno as the recipient of its 2011 Notable Achievement Award, branch officials said yesterday.

This award recognizes improvement and excellence in the engineering, design, and construction, of cost-effective and innovative construction projects, according to the council’s website.

The project, designed by SmithGroup and completed by Turner Construction, converted the vacant former federal courthouse into a 15-courtroom space now used by the Fresno Superior Court for its civil and family cases.

Fresno Superior Court Executive Officer Tamara Lynn Beard remarked that the new facility “has allowed the court to greatly improve public access to, and operational efficiency within, our civil, probate, and family law departments.”

She said “this beautiful and all-in-one service building seems to have a calming influence on all” who have business there, and many of those who regularly use the facility “have commented about how well this building remodel was designed and constructed.”

The American Institute of Architects’ Academy of Architecture for Justice have also selected designs for courthouses in Hollister and Stockton for recognition in its Justice Facilities Review.

According to the organization, its Justice Facilities Review identifies projects that “demonstrate quality of form, functionality, and current architectural responses to complex justice design issues.” This year it made its selections from an international pool of nearly 100 projects.

The new Hollister courthouse, for the San Benito Superior Court was selected to receive the highest commendation from the AIA/AAJ, which is scheduled to be presented to Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye at the group’s international conference in Los Angeles this November.

Designed by SmithGroup Architects of San Francisco, the planned two-story building will feature a distinctive glass-and-steel exterior with a passive solar awning and a courtyard landscaped with native plants.

The design also incorporates sustainability measures that will qualify it to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

This project is awaiting sale of lease-revenue bonds to start construction, anticipated to take place this fall, branch officials said. 

San Benito Superior Court Judge Steven R. Sanders said the recognition was “extremely satisfying” since “the design is the result of intense collaborative efforts by SmithGroup, the Administrative Office of the Courts, the Superior Court, and the local project advisory group; and second, the goal of developing a design for our community that is accessible, functional, and visually appealing appears well on the way to being met.”

A new Stockton courthouse, for the San Joaquin Superior Court, was also included in 2011 Justice Facilities Review.

The planned 30-courtroom facility, by NBBJ Architects of Seattle, rises 13 stories, making it the tallest building in Stockton. Its design incorporates sustainability features that will qualify it for a LEED Gold rating.

Branch officials said this project is awaiting completion of site acquisition, and construction is scheduled to start in early 2013.

San Joaquin Superior Court Presiding Judge Robin Appel said she was “look[ing] forward to our new courthouse, which is so desperately needed.”

She said she felt “privileged to have award-winning architects design a building that not only meets our needs for security and modernization but is also beautifully designed.”


Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company