Building Statistics

New San Bernardino Courthouse

San Bernardino, CA

Prison Cells, Court Rooms & Offices

397,000 gross ft2

A 3-story Podium & 11-story Tower


Judicial Council of California - Administrative Office of the Courts

Skidmore Owings & Merrill                                          

Skidmore Owings & Merrill                                          

Skidmore Owings & Merrill                                          

GeoPentech, Inc.                                                           


Rolf Jensen & Associates                                              

Shen Milsom & Wilke, Inc.                                           

IBE Consulting Engineers                                             


Begin January 2011 & end January 2013



Rudolph & Sletten, Inc.                                               


California Building Code 2008 & Administrative Office of the Courts

LUPIN-Land Use Planning Information Network

Devon Lam

Mechanical option

New san Bernardino Courthouse | san Bernardino | CALIFORNIA

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| Senior Thesis e-Studio | The Pennsylvania State University | Architectural Engineering Department | AE Lab | Contact Devon Lam |
This page was last updated on
5.2.2011, by Devon Lam and is hosted by the Architectural Engineering Department ©2010
“Note: While great efforts have been taken to provide accurate and complete information on the pages of CPEP, please be aware that the information contained herewith is considered a work‐in-progress for this thesis project. Modifications and changes related to the original building designs and construction methodologies for this senior thesis project are solely the interpretation of Devon Lam. Changes and discrepancies in no way imply that the original design contained errors or was flawed. Differing assumptions, code references, requirements, and methodologies have been incorporated into this thesis project; therefore, investigation results may vary from the original design.”


The New San Bernardino Courthouse is delivered by CM-At-Risk method. The construction will starts in January 2011 and ends in January 2013. The project cost is approximately $350,000,000.


To condition the New San Bernardino Courthouse Building, six air handling units (AHUs) are used. One of the AHUs is located in the lower level, which serves the three-story podium using a Variable Air Volume (VAV) System with Fan Powered Boxes (FPB) to condition the lobby area of the podium. A second AHU is also located in the lower level to serve the Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) room. The other four AHUs are located in the penthouse, which serve the eleven-story tower. Two of these serve the courtrooms and judicial offices of the tower using a VAV System. Of the remaining two AHUs, one serves the holding area of the tower using a Constant Air Volume (CAV) System, while the other serves the elevator machine room.

Two Computer Room Air Conditioning Units are used to serve the Main Distribution Frame (MDF) room in the lower level. These units are connected to a chilled water distribution line from the chillers and use electric resistance reheat to adjust the temperature and humidity ratio of the conditioned space.

All the chillers, boilers, and associated pumps are located in the penthouse. The central chiller plant consists of two large 530-ton water-cooled centrifugal chillers and one 138-ton water-cooled screw chiller. The central boiler plant consists of three 1,860MBH condensing hot-water boilers with one boiler acting on stand-by mode. There are three chilled water pumps and three hot water pumps, all of which feature Variable Frequency Drives. One chilled water pump and one hot water pump act on stand-by mode.

All of the mechanical equipment is to be controlled using a flat LON network architecture building automation system.  This control system allows the network to serve a wide number of applications, reduces the overall installation and life cycle costs and as well as increases reliability by minimizing single points of failure.


The Courthouse is fed via multiple underground incoming 480V feeders from two on-site utility transformers. Incoming feeders run via concrete encased duct banks and terminate onto two building switchboards located on the lower level. These switchboards are arranged such that all major plumbing, fire protection, and HVAC equipment are fed from one switchboard, while lighting and receptacles are fed from the other. A third switchboard is located at the mechanical penthouse for service of penthouse loads and is sub fed from the mechanical switchboard at the lower level. 480V power is distributed from the switchboards to distribution boards and large equipment. 208Y120V power is supplied via floor by floor step down transformers from the lighting and receptacle distribution boards. The typical floor electrical closets are divided into two risers: one lighting riser and one receptacle riser. The receptacle closet riser is located midway through the building to minimize voltage drop of 120V circuits. The lighting, which is supplied at 277V, is located at one end of the building to supply the entire floor.

Emergency power is supplied via an on-site 480Y277V enclosed package emergency generator. Upon utility blackout or fire condition, the generator will start up and emergency loads will be transferred to emergency via automatic transfer switches located at the penthouse and lower levels. Emergency loads consist of egress lighting, IT and security equipment, emergency power receptacles, fire pump, smoke exhaust, emergency ventilation, and elevators. High priority loads are supplied via UPS.


Lighting is designed using high efficiency fluorescent, LED, and metal halide fixtures with electronic ballasts where required. Fixtures have been selected to meet a 20% reduction in lighting energy from the California Energy Code (California Building Code, Title 24). Daylight sensors and vacancy sensors are provided throughout the building to minimize lighting demand. Site lighting has been zoned such that up to half the lighting may be turned off when the building is unoccupied to reduce energy, while still providing an appropriate safe illumination level. All lighting complies with LEED requirements for light pollution, controllability, and energy reduction.


The structure of this courthouse is a steel framing with composite steel deck and concrete slab. The W24 cruciform columns with moment resisting frame are mostly used throughout this building and the rest are composite steel concrete columns. A seismic base isolation system is designed to control large seismic forces since this building locates in San Bernardino, CA, where earthquake might occurs. Different thicknesses of the reinforced concrete mat slabs foundation are designed in the lower level of the 3-story podium and the 11-story tower to distribute heavy column and wall loads across the entire building area.

Sustainability Features

With a minimum target of LEED® Silver certification, the New San Bernardino Courthouse will seek to establish a sustainable model of development in the city. The design has carefully considered orientation, shading, material selection, and landscaping so that the building will thrive within its desert climate. A green roof is also designed on top of the 3-story podium to help reduce cooling load in the summer and rooftop rainwater is collected and reused to save the building’s water usage.

The New San Bernardino Courthouse consists of two elements. One of the elements is a 3-story section, or podium, built along the site’s northern edge, will house functions that the public accesses most frequently: clerk’s offices, jury assembly, and support spaces. The west section of the podium contains a spacious entrance lobby incorporating features that draw in daylight while limiting heat gain. This lower building mass helps to scale the courthouse to its immediate context. The other element is an 11-story, 200-foot-tall tower will house the courtrooms and judicial offices. This tower will express the stature of the Court and serve as a landmark for the city.

The two sections of the building are connected by a top-lit, cascading stair and a multi-story atrium. Within the tower, each floor will contain four courtrooms, with public hallways and waiting areas occurring behind a glass façade on the north.  

Both the body of the tower and the frame of the podium will be clad in richly textured limestone, which will recall the historic courthouse and reflect the dignity of the Superior Court. A green roof system designs on top of the three-story podium to reduce building’s thermal load in the summer. A glass façade is designed along the north side of the tower, which enables those using the building to view the city and surrounding mountains. This also provides visibility into the functioning of the Court to the public outside the building.