The San Antonio Federal Courthouse, which opened earlier this year, replaces a courthouse that had been constructed as a pavilion for the 1968 World’s Fair. Serving the Western District of Texas—a 93,000-square-mile area stretching from San Antonio to El Paso—the new 228,000-square-foot Courthouse aims to serve as both a safe, secure facility and a welcoming public presence.
Designed by Lake|Flato Architects in association with Alta Architects (formerly Munoz & Company), the San Antonio Federal Courthouse sits two blocks from the historic city center. For 12 years, the design team worked with the City of San Antonio, the General Service Administration, and several federal agencies to design a facility that both represents the civic importance of a new federal courthouse and captures San Antonio’s cultural identity.
Four feet above the streetscape, the Courthouses rests on a landscaped plinth of native plants that reference the site’s agrarian history, while reinforcing the structure’s significance for the community. The eight courtrooms create an expression on the building’s facade, placing judicial leadership on metaphorical display. Visitors ramp up past a tree-covered landscape to the entry portal.
Inside, visitors enter the central atrium, which is overlooked by courtroom lobby balconies. Great stairs lead visitors and potential jurors up to the jury assembly. Clerestories, skylights, and dormers create an inviting, light-filled environment. Within the courtrooms, clearstory windows over the judge’s bench let in natural light, representing the idea of judicial transparency.
On track to achieving LEED Gold certification, the Courthouse has a compact footprint. Its energy-efficient and resource-conserving strategies reduce energy costs by 21% and provide an indoor water savings of 30%. The facility also features two electric vehicle charging stations.
On the Building Team:
Design architect: Lake|Flato Architects
Construction administration and landscape architect: Alta Architects (formerly Munoz & Company)
Design-build contractor: Brasfield & Gorrie
Design-build architect: SLAM Collaborative
Mechanical/plumbing engineer: Integral Group
Electrical/lighting engineer: CNG Engineering
Structural engineer: Datum Engineers
Survey/civil engineer: Pape-Dawson Engineers