SLAM served as the Architect of Record, collaborating with Lake Flato Architects who developed the criteria design for the new three-story San Antonio Federal Courthouse. This new building replaces a courthouse that was originally constructed as a theater for the 1968 World’s Fair and reconfigured into a courthouse in the 1970s. The new courthouse features eight courtrooms and 13 chambers, also housing the district’s probation and pretrial services offices, federal defender office, U.S. marshal’s office, and U.S. attorney’s office.
The existing John H. Wood Jr. U.S. Courthouse had been constructed as a theater for the 1968 World’s Fair and reconfigured into a courthouse in the 1970s. It had lead pipes bursting, foundation and heating and cooling issues, and the layout of the building was a concern for security. There were very few windows or opportunity for natural light.
The new San Antonio Federal courthouse serves as a safe, secure facility with a welcoming public presence and an abundance of natural light. The new facility consolidates scattered administrative and training functions previously found in multiple buildings.
The openness of the central atrium helps with wayfinding and easily directs public visitors to the vertical circulation of elevator and stairs found between the two three-story pavilions.
This circulation zone contains visual connectivity between the levels and helps encourage secure openness in the public zone while harkening back to the grand staircases of historic government and public buildings. Abundant natural light in the public realm is provided through generous glazing and skylights.
This design for a new federal courthouse building is a synthesis of the history of the region, the relationship of built form and landscape and the symbolic expression of federal law.