PORTERVILLE SUPERIOR COURTHOUSE
The LEED Silver project includes feasibility, design and construction of the new Porterville Courthouse for the Superior Court of California in the County of Tulare. The development program includes 9 courtrooms within a 90,000 square foot facility and surface parking for 350 vehicles. WHITIN DESIGN WORKS provided preliminary site analysis and feasibility studies for two sites from which the 7.4 acre fairground was chosen. Site analysis findings were used to generate site plan options that incorporate historical, social, and ecological aspects unique to Porterville.
Eastern views of rolling foothills dotted with California Live Oaks (Quercus agrifolia) and native grasses inspire the landscape design for the Porterville Courthouse site. The goal of the landscape design is to visually integrate the Courthouse building with a significant landform inspired by the surrounding topography such that the Courthouse appears to spring from a landform rather than sit within adjacent parking lots. The landform base rises to meet and connect visually with the green roof on Level 1 of the building. The jurors' waiting room spills out onto the adjacent 2nd level terrace surrounded by green roof landscape. Levels 2 and 3 of the Courthouse rest atop the "natural" landform when viewed from Olive Street and surrounding parking lots.
The main entry to the Courthouse is through the open air outdoor courtyard covered by a canopy at the 3rd level. The courtyard functions as a utility bill pay window and has free form, colored terrazzo benches, an agricultural 'stand-pipe' fountain and bamboo planted mounds. A Pedestrian Promenade extends east from the Courthouse across the site to future civic facilities. The Promenade is lined with a row of specimen Oak trees (Quercus suber) and site amenities such as benches and trash receptacles. A large public parking area occupies the north and northeastern portions of the site, with a smaller short term parking lot located south of the Pedestrian Promenade. Walled, gated and covered parking for the judges occurs directly north of the building. A secure subterranean sally port is located at the northwest corner of the site.