San Antonio Federal Courthouse

San Antonio Federal Courthouse

the story

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.

[logo] at-a-glance

New Building
Interior Design
San Antonio, TX
Completed 2022
243,000 SF

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 new courthouse is composed of two linear “pavilions”; one containing courtrooms and chambers while the other volume houses support spaces on the three floors.

The two bars are tied together by a quieter, simpler yet elegant connective open atrium. The interior atrium acts as the central unifying element, linking all the public areas and visually connecting all the court floors.

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.

The district courtroom volume is expressed with a north facing clerestory bringing natural light to the top floor of courtrooms. The proportions and rhythms of windows, stone “columns” and glazed curtainwall staff areas create a rich balance and order to the building.

To the west of the new courthouse a linear landscape and hardscape depict the historic path of the Camino Real de Laredo which creates a public space in which visitors to the courthouse process prior to or after their visit.


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.

Project Contacts

Douglas Kleppin AIA, LEED AP

407 992.6368