New Federal Courthouse Will Integrate Local History Into Design

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View from the San Pedro Creek.

Courtesy / Muñoz and Company - Lake Flato Architects

View of the new San Antonio Federal Courthouse from the San Pedro Creek.

Designers and architects of the San Antonio Federal Courthouse are putting finishing touches on the project’s design, which will seamlessly connect to the various pieces of local history surrounding it, officials told Bexar County commissioners Tuesday.

The site of the new courthouse, 214 W. Nueva St., sits right next to the developing San Pedro Creek Improvements Project, across from Casa Navarro, and atop the historic Camino Real.

“It’s a very important and beautiful site,” said Muñoz & Company CEO Henry Muñoz, whose local firm is collaborating with Lake|Flato Architects on the design. Officials plan to incorporate details and materials that make the building look contemporary, but also highlight the location’s history.

The latest design update relates to the Camino Real. The historic road that once connected Mexico City to San Antonio’s Spanish-colonial Missions, presidios, and other governmental centers runs right through the site.

Architects will honor the roadway throughout the building’s public spaces, Muñoz said. Current renderings don’t yet show it, but “paving patterns in this lobby will ultimately indicate that the Camino Real was right there,” he said.

A rendering of the interior of the future Federal Court House.

Courtesy / Muñoz and Company - Lake Flato Architects

An updated rendering of the interior of the future Federal Courthouse.

The portion of San Pedro Creek that abuts the courthouse property is called “Agua Antigua,” Muñoz said, and will give visitors the feeling that the creek “has been excavated from the aquifer.

Designers want to make the side of the courthouse that faces the creek transparent, so that those inside can appreciate the improved waterway’s natural beauty.

Portion of San Pedro Creek underneath Nueva Street near the Bexar County Courthouse property. Rendering courtesy of Muñoz & Co.

Courtesy / Muñoz & Co.

Portion of San Pedro Creek underneath Nueva Street near the Federal Courthouse property.

The new, 305,000 sq. ft. federal courthouse is being funded by the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which approved a little more than $144 million in funding last May for the United States General Services Administration (GSA) to build the structure.

Officials plan to break ground on the facility during the city’s Tricentennial festivities in 2018. The finished building will have eight courtrooms and 83 parking spaces situated along the San Pedro Creek.

Future design tweaks will include some of the more intricate artistic details, not yet pictured in renderings, that “will make the building sing,” Muñoz said.

5 thoughts on “New Federal Courthouse Will Integrate Local History Into Design

  1. All this new development is very exciting. I am proud and glad to see that the design has been carefully thought of

  2. I think this design is unimaginative and truly misses the mark. Certain elements are nice, but to me it looks like a nameless office building found off of an interstate exit somewhere.

    We don’t necessarily have to recreate the Supreme Court building, but it would be wonderful to have something truly unique, and truly lasting.

    We deserve better!

    • I agree. You can usually tell a Lake|Flato design project pretty quickly with its flat, sharp nameless facades. The new court house is no exception to pretty much everything else they’re pushing out.

  3. Don’t know how strongly they influenced this design, and I love Lake|Flato, but this is more appropriate for a UTSA building. (It actually looks just like them.)

    The local seat of the federal judiciary–which has jurisdiction over an area covering about a quarter of the state–should be more…imposing. The “federal” Art Deco buildings of the FDR era pull off the balance between delicate aesthetics and massing very well. This building does not appear to attempt anything other than showcase light, air, and water.

  4. I read that, “Designers want to make the side of the courthouse that faces the creek transparent, so that those inside can appreciate the improved waterway’s natural beauty.” Since I don’t plan to violate any federal laws and I’m not in the legal profession, I will probably never get a chance to go inside the new Federal Courthouse when it’s finished. But as a future user of the San Pedro Creek Improvements Project, I would like to look at something besides “83 parking spaces situated along the San Pedro Creek.” Is a parking lot the best use in the design of the creek?

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