New San Joaquin County Courthouse construction to begin

Last week, the first notices went up around Hunter Square, signaling the start of construction on San Joaquin County’s new $272 million, 13 story courthouse. If everything goes according to plan, the courthouse should be open for business in mid-2016. The new building will replace the existing county courthouse directly to the east, which is presently operating at maximum capacity. The current building has been much maligned, with overcrowding and dangerous conditions leading to high-profile security incidents (not to mention also being dubbed one of Stockton’s ugliest buildings by SCL).

New courthouse, looking west down Weber Avenue. (c/o NBBJ)

New courthouse, looking west down Weber Avenue. (c/o NBBJ)

The new courthouse should be a big upgrade, with 30 courtrooms, upgraded security features and a jury duty waiting room that isn’t a dungeon. And with LEED Gold standards, the building will also be fairly green, featuring solar panels, low-flow fixtures and drought-resistant landscaping, among other things.

When completed, the new courthouse will be Stockton’s tallest building floors-wise, eclipsing the 12-story Medico-Dental Building just a few blocks away. The architecture firm NBBJ, who designed the building, writes that the courthouse will establish “a magnificent civic presence on the Stockton skyline.”

The courthouse will be built atop Hunter Square, which has played an important role in Stockton’s history. Originally donated to the city by Charles Weber, the square was the site of many historical events, including the 1857 California State Fair. In prior incarnations, the plaza was home to an artesian well-powered fountain, and later a granite drinking fountain known as the “Mail Fountain.” The current plaza was constructed in 1967 as part of the city’s West End Renewal project and today plays host to the downtown farmer’s market.

There is hope that the spire atop the Hunter Square’s fountain can be reused when the new plaza is built on the site of the current courthouse.

While Hunter Square will be no more, current plans include new public space on the site of the current courthouse, which will be demolished. This new space will include a water fountain feature as well as an “80-foot long art wall” that will showcase “historic scenes from Stockton’s past.” In addition to these new features, there is hope that the spire featured on Hunter Square’s fountain can be salvaged and reused in the new plaza to some extent. Plans also call for an eventual underground parking lot beneath the plaza.

The $272 million price tag is covered by state court funds from court fees, penalties and assessments, and does not tap into the general funds of the city, county or state.

For more renderings of the new courthouse, see below.

New San Joaquin Courthouse Facts:

Stories: 13

Square feet: 306,000

Cost: approximately $272.9 million (in 2011 dollars)

Expected completion: mid-2016

Funding: the California State Court Facilities Construction Fund

Courtrooms: 30

Architect: NBBJ

Construction firm: Turner Construction 

The 12th floor will include a jury duty terrace (c/o NBBJ)

The 12th floor will include a jury duty terrace (c/o NBBJ)

Courthouse entrance opening up to Weber Ave. (c/o NBBJ)

Courthouse entrance opening up to Weber Ave. (c/o NBBJ)

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Categories: Development News

Author:David A. Garcia

David A. Garcia founded SCL in March of 2012. He holds degrees from UCLA as well as Johns Hopkins University and currently works as the Director of Community Development at The Cort Group in Downtown Stockton, and previously worked as a researcher/analyst for a congressional agency in Washington DC. The views expressed here are solely of the author.

3 Comments on “New San Joaquin County Courthouse construction to begin”

  1. Jon Seisa
    December 11, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    Aesthetically, though, I just lament how the propose structure is an unimaginative angular post-and-lintel boxy-rectangular design. In this Modern Age of magnificent curvilinear architecture, the New Wave, the design is already out of date before it’s constructed. They should have, at the very least, integrated some sort of sweeping curvilinear element or a slanted roof to an apex to offset the boxy-ness. To me it just looks like the typical 80s condominiums on the Whilshire Corridor in LA.

    But at the least it’s something new in way of high-rises for Stockton’s skyline—– finally.

  2. Anthony
    December 11, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

    I agree Jon, not the most striking building but I’d have to see the exact materials used. Hey, let’s be happy there are windows for maximum natural lighting, an upper-level veranda overlooking…(???), and what looks like a four-story atrium…not bad at all for Stockton! Still, it’s a terrible shame the old courthouse will go to waste. I’ve already said much about what could be done without demolishing the dated building but it wouldn’t matter. Hopefully the City of Stockton will continue to modernize it’s overall urban-design aesthetic. I really like the idea of cities using design and art as a tool to create wonderful permanent and temporary structures that bring people together and encourages dialog within the small design community; it creates a buzz and gives the community pride. The construction of the new plaza could very well be a new focal point of urban greening and place-making, bringing a unique experience to greater Stockton. But I won’t get my hope’s too high, I’ll wait to see the design.

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