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Firm Achieves Energy Nods with Glass Facade

Monday, August 27, 2018

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For its design of a federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles, architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill decided to chase the sun. And it paid off with a LEED Platinum certification earlier this year.

The firm says that it aimed to create a building that is "both modern in spirit and rooted in classic principles of federal architecture.”

The Design

The 10-story site—which has a 27-foot grade change from its highest to lowest point—contains 24 courtrooms and 32 judicial chambers, with a 10-story atrium in the middle.

SOM

For its design of a federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles, architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill decided to chase the sun. And it paid off with a LEED Platinum certification earlier this year.

The designers knew they wanted glass for the exterior, but also knew that managing sun exposure would be a challenge. SOM designed a glazed curtain wall with vertical pleats, helping to reduce the area that’s hit with most of the sun. The panels also vary in opacity, depending on which direction they’re facing.

Together, the firm says, those features reduce the solar radiation load by nearly half compared to conventional glass facades.

There were also seismic concerns to consider. The glazed building cantilevers over a recessed stone podium and the structure consists of concrete shear walls that are positioned near the center of the building. A roof hat truss system also helps reduce seismic risks.

Steel columns hang from the truss to support the floor slabs and curtain walls.

"The courthouse design mitigates blast threats by using a novel truss system to increase the standoff between the perimeter and primary structure, while still allowing the cube to appear as a single, hovering form," SOM said.

The pleated facade system, along with other energy-saving design features such as a rooftop photovoltaic array, helped earn the project a LEED Platinum certification and a Committee on the Environment Top Ten Award from the American Institute of Architects.

   

Tagged categories: Color + Design; Curtain wall extrusions and cladding; Design; Glass; LEED; North America

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