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Robert E. Coyle United States Courthouse

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 the 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. Crucial technical requirements are also fulfilled: the panels meet the building’s blast-resistance criteria and ensure the durability of the building’s envelope. The faceted planes of the concrete panels mediate the scale of the building and highlight the daily and seasonal variation of Fresno’s powerful sunlight.

Associate Architect: Gruen Associates Photography: Tim Griffith