On Monday, with great pride, our District opened its newest courthouse in Bakersfield. The 33,000 square foot, $28.5 million project houses U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services and the U.S. Marshal Service, in addition to Magistrate Judge Jennifer Thurston and her staff. The building boasts a full detention facility with seven holding cells, a spacious Clerk’s Office and a state-of-the-art courtroom. Though it has only one courtroom now, the courthouse was designed with the future in mind and it can be expanded to a second courtroom, if the Court's needs require it.
The building has achieved an LEED gold rating, meaning that has been built to some of the highest standards in terms of energy efficiency and sustainability. It produces 30% of its own electric needs via photovoltaic panels on the rooftop. Each of the offices is cooled using chilled beam technology that pre-cools the air entering the spaces by passing it over water-filled pipes. In the public lobby, the space is heated with radiant tubes placed within the flooring. The landscaping requires only minimal water and maintenance and the exterior security cameras operate with very low lighting, so to prevent the need to flood-light the building at night. The interior spaces were planned also to take advantage of the natural lighting provided by large windows. Only when the ambient lighting falls below a certain level will the electric lighting turn on.
"I am very proud of our courthouse. It is so beautiful and is located in such a wonderful setting. I can look out my window and see ducks swimming by, families picnicking and kids fishing," said Judge Thurston.
The courthouse was built on a site donated by the City of Bakersfield in the town’s Central Park. The park and the surrounding areas have been part of a downtown redevelopment called Mill Creek. In addition to the courthouse, Mill Creek’s linear, strolling parkway provides pathways along the “creek,” which pass newly added senior and low-income housing, the McMurtrey Aquatics Center, a movie theater and soon-to-be-added retail and office space.
Credit for the ease of the Court’s move must go to the tremendous efforts of our IT and facilities staff who made sure the Court was up-and-running on the very first day. Judge Thurston handled her first criminal matter in the courtroom on Tuesday and everything went perfectly.
Plans for the building’s grand opening on September 28, 2012, are underway. The General Services Administration is planning to hold the event in park adjacent to the courthouse and will host tours of the courthouse afterward.
Anthony W. Ishii
United States District Court
Eastern District of California