Robert E. Coyle United States Courthouse
The United States Courthouse in Fresno adds a new landmark to the downtown and enhances the cultural environment of the city as a whole. A major public garden, large multi-use lobby, café, library, and other amenities make the courthouse an integral part of urban and community life. The context of the greater Central Valley and the nearby Sierra Nevada Mountains are reflected in the bold sculpting of the mass of the building and the use of a unique system of textured precast concrete panels.
The L-shape of the building frames a large public garden—a collaboration between the artists and landscape architect—as a tableau to be seen from the lobby. The garden, entitled “Once Upon a Time in Fresno…” creates a whole environment that celebrates the natural history of the San Joaquin Valley—the region that the courthouse was built to serve.
A defining aspect of the courthouse is its unique skin of sculptural precast concrete. The richly textured patterns that play across the elevations of the courthouse speak to the rustic panorama of the Central Valley landscape- from sweeping agricultural plains to foothills and mountains. Crucial technical requirements are also fulfilled: the panels meet the building’s blast-resistance criteria, provide acoustical insulation, and ensure the durability of the building’s envelope. Faceted planes of the concrete panels mediate the scale of the massive wall surfaces and highlight the daily and seasonal variation of Fresno’s powerful sunlight.
Associate Architect: Gruen Associates
Photography: Tim Griffith