Bakersfield Federal Courthouse in Bakersfield, California. Courtesy Ooms Incorporated / Frank Ooms Photography.

Bakersfield Federal Courthouse



Thornton Tomasetti provided structural engineering services for a new two-story, 35,500-square-foot federal courthouse. Awarded through an innovative General Services Administration Design Excellence Design-Build competition, the project was funded as part of a $5.5 billion initiative under the federal Recovery Act to build new energy-efficient federal buildings and convert existing structures into high-performance green buildings.

The courthouse is occupied by one magistrate court and chamber, the District Clerk’s office, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Probation office, U.S. Pre-Trial office, judicial chambers, jury assembly spaces, one basement level, and on-grade parking.

Necessitated by architectural and constructability demands, the building’s structure is quite complex, consisting of a combination of several materials, support systems, and construction methods. The building’s exterior is made entirely of exposed “white” precast concrete walls and glass. Precast tilt-up construction was chosen for the exposed exterior elements to provide a consistent architectural look while remaining cost effective. The gravity system consists of two-way reinforced concrete flat plate floors supported by a combination of cast-in-place and precast tilt-up concrete columns and walls. In addition, the main entry canopy and courtroom roof consists of structural steel and light gage metal deck. Precast and cast-in-place concrete shearwalls were used to resist lateral loads, and the full exterior of the building is blast hardened per the ISC Security Design Criteria for New Federal Buildings and Major Modernization Projects.

The courthouse, located in Bakersfield’s downtown park and features high-performance glazing and enhanced thermal insulation which is expected to earn the facility LEED Gold certification and save taxpayer dollars through innovative design and energy efficiency.

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