The $490-million Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse project in Long Beach, Calif., employed fast-track design-build, led by an international group of investors and builders. The owner—the state of California's Judicial Council, Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC)—selected a finance team led by France's Meridiam Infrastructure, working with its local development company, Long Beach Judicial Partners. Capital was provided by a consortium of Canadian, European and Japanese banks.

The new courthouse replaced a functionally deficient 35-year-old building nearby. Components of the new, 545,000-sq-ft facility include 31 courtrooms, 105,000 sq ft of leasable office and retail space, and seismic upgrades to an existing parking garage. The L-shaped building opened last summer, after a 26-month construction schedule.

The project is the first infrastructure building in the U.S. to be completed under a performance-based infrastructure approach, according to project officials. PBI uses a public-private partnership not only to fund design and construction but also for long-term operations and maintenance, provided by a private contractor—in this case, Johnson Controls.

The PBI contract meant the state and AOC spent no money up front: Their payments did not begin until satisfactory completion of the building and its occupancy. The state retains full ownership of the building and the site and pays back capital costs on an annual basis. The contract includes operating and maintenance expenses for 35 years.

The PBI agreement provided better value to the state and shifted all risk to the private-sector partners, says Clifford Ham, principal architect for AOC in California. "It also allowed us to expand within the building, should we need to, and hand over maintenance and operation for less expense than the state could provide."

He adds that the performance aspect of the contract was especially important to AOC and the state of California. "The private sector must maintain the building in a way that works for us. And we don't have to pay them if it doesn't."

Materials for the building were globally sourced. Portland, Ore.-based Benson Industries installed the unitized curtain wall using glass from Minnesota and aluminum extrusions from Korea, with assembly in China and Mexico. Quebec's Ebenisterie Beaubois provided courtroom millwork, with hardwood veneers from Indianapolis.

Development Industries Inc., Los Angeles, led quality-control oversight on the project, including shop drawings, detailing, fabrication, shipping and final installation of the millwork. Lori Guidry, Development Industries' president, says the presence of a large international design-build team meant "a lot more attention paid to the quality details than we're accustomed to. More stakeholders meant more eyes on everything."

The courthouse project had a short construction schedule and "a long-term outlook," Ham says. "The international PBI aspect meant that it was better reviewed and examined than most projects."


Project Team

Owner Judicial Council of California, Administrative Office of the Courts, San Francisco

Developer Long Beach Judicial Partners LLC; Meridiam Infrastructure, Paris, France

Architect & Engineer-of-Record AECOM, Los Angeles

Design-Builder Clark Design-Build of California Inc.-Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate, Costa Mesa, Calif.

Independent Quality Management Development Industries Inc., Los Angeles

Engineers Nabih Youssef Associates, Los Angeles; Syska Hennessy Group, Los Angeles; Kling Consulting Group Inc., Irvine, Calif.; TMAD Taylor & Gaines, Anaheim, Calif.

Operating Service Provider Johnson Controls Inc., Cypress, Calif.