San Francisco Civic Center Complex

This high-profile project in downtown San Francisco, in the revered Civic Center Plaza, entailed the renovation of the California State Supreme Court building and the addition of an adjoining 14-story office tower. Preserving the classical, Beaux Arts-style courthouse while accommodating the contemporary needs of 11 government agencies were primary concerns.

SOM tucked the addition behind the historic courthouse to ensure it didn’t overpower the site. A massing that consists of slim slabs that gradually step upward further integrates the new structure into its context while also giving it a strong civic presence. The sweeping curve of the tallest slab gestures out toward the plaza while deferring to the dome of the nearby City Hall. Inside, the building features a flexible layout, ample daylight, and views of the city.

On the ground floor, SOM developed a hierarchical sequence of spaces linking the old and new buildings. The addition’s first six stories are connected to the courthouse, creating seamless floorplates. A pair of top-lit atria introduces natural light into these spaces.