San Diego courthouse needs protective awning after broken windows

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On three occasions since May, tempered glass panels at the downtown San Diego state courthouse have shattered, forcing court officials to build a canopy around the skyscraper to protect people on the streets. sidewalks below.

In an email Monday to judges and court staff, San Diego Superior Court Presiding Judge Michael T. Smyth and court chief executive Michael Roddy said the $555 million building had “experienced three recent incidents of spontaneous breakage of tempered glass panels”.

The unexplained ruptures occurred both inside and outside the 22-story San Diego Central Courthouse.

The State Judicial Council, the decision-making arm of the judiciary that built and owns the building, is investigating the causes of the breaches. In the email, Smyth and Roddy wrote that there could be several possible reasons such as “impacts, impurities in the glass, high temperatures or other causes”.

The ruptures occurred on different sides and floors of the building. Windows on the 10th, 12th and 14th floors have smashed or shattered since May, according to court spokeswoman Emily Cox. No one was hurt.

Blaine Corren, spokesperson for the Judicial Council, said the first incident occurred on May 16 when an exterior window shattered in situ – meaning it was not dislodged – at the 14th floor on the north side of the structure.

On July 5, an interior window on the 10th floor broke, also in place, on the west side.

The most recent incident occurred Aug. 4 on the other side of the building when an east-facing 12th-floor exterior window shattered, Corren said.

The window fell sometime before August 8, with the glass falling eight stories to what he described as an interior service courtyard on the roof on the fourth floor. No glass landed on the street or sidewalk in any of the incidents.

Nonetheless, the state decided to build an 8-foot-tall sidewalk canopy around the perimeter of the building until it could determine the cause of the problem. Construction was scheduled to begin Tuesday, but the state has yet to hire a contractor to do the work, Corren said.

During this time, the state will try to figure out what is causing the breaks. “The council is in the process of retaining experts to assess window conditions,” Corren wrote in an email. “We don’t know how long the investigation will take at this stage, but we hope to have additional information soon.”

From the entrance to the San Diego Central Courthouse, a hole can be seen in the upper floors.

(Eduardo Contreras/San Diego Union-Tribune)

It’s not the first problem with the windows of the building, which opened to the public in December 2017. A broken window on an upper floor along the building’s north side closed off the sidewalk for weeks in early 2018. pending repair.

About nine months after opening, in September 2018, the court had to replace the windows of 22 judges’ chambers due to a “creaking” or major cracking defect. The repair costs were covered by the building guarantee of the contractor, Rudolph & Sletten.

Corren said there were no cost estimates yet for the window repairs and canopy work, but said the state would work to recover the repair and other related expenses from the state. ‘entrepreneur.

It is unclear how long the awnings will need to remain in place. Both court executives said in the email that global supply chain issues had delayed delivery of the replacement glass.

When the courthouse opened in 2017, it was a year later than court officials had wished due to a smoke control system that delayed approval from the fire marshal of State. At the time, it was the largest and most expensive courthouse built by the state.

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