Designs Within Reach 2019

(page 6 of 6)

Rendering by NBBJ

Sacramento County Courthouse

Estimated Completion: 2022

It’s been said that good things come in twos. With the proposed 17-story Sacramento County Courthouse, which is set to rise in the railyards, serving as a visual echo of the stately 1999 Robert T. Matsui Federal Courthouse across the street, the city will receive a virtual set of judicial bookends that project as much elegance as strength.

The forthcoming building, designed by global architecture firm NBBJ, ticks all the kinder, gentler boxes when it comes to improving an intimidating court system’s human interface. Unlike the older structure’s dark public passageways, a monumental glass curtain wall cladding the north side of the new building will illuminate secure public corridors and waiting areas with healthy, mood-boosting natural sunlight. An unfolding vista of the American River and beyond will also be available to provide a sense of place.

Still, the permanence of concrete or metal is not without symbolic value. So the south façade will be arrayed with vertical steel panels, the design equivalent of armor; and the east and west faces will nod to the seat of government with white precast concrete to match the state Capitol building. But if those gestures of fortitude seem too subtle, may we submit into evidence the modern entry portico: With its allusions to ancient Greek temples (and, for that matter, the U.S. Supreme Court), the tall columns unmistakably summon all the gravitas and grandeur befitting the highest tribunal in the region. S