Democracy is on display at this new state office building in downtown Sacramento’s historic government center. As a place for public assembly, it is the most important new civic building constructed in the city by the State of California in the past four decades.
The 10-story building houses California legislative and executive elected officials, including the governor and staff who have relocated here until the new Capitol Annex project is completed.
The design contributes to California’s progressive image while complementing the neoclassical State Capitol structure just two blocks away.
“Civic architecture must exemplify thoughtful urbanism and regenerative design.” — Paul Woolford, HOK Design Principal
Democracy on Display
The design divides the front of the office building from north to south. This reimagines the typical arrangement of an office building’s solid central core, which typically includes interior elements like staircases, elevators and essential operational spaces.
The double-height, daylit great rooms in the center of each floor function as the heart of the building. Visitors can wait for meetings in these spaces, while staff can find team or solitary work opportunities.
Open, interconnecting stairs between floors encourage interaction.
On two floors, lush outdoor terraces accessed from the great rooms connect people to nature while offering sweeping views of the city, including the State Capitol.
The exterior architecture employs a gentle asymmetric bias and facade patterning to direct people’s attention to the dome of the Capitol building to the east. The classical, symmetrical window configurations echo California’s traditional civic architecture and resonate with the nearby State Capitol building. Concurrently, the building showcases a high-performance, optimized facade adorned with light shelves and vertical fins. The facade’s orientations are tailored to various climatic conditions, harmonizing solar gain, daylight and views.
Design for Pedestrians
Through outreach workshops and surveys, the team collaborated with the Capitol Area Development Authority and the general public to help establish O Street as a welcoming pedestrian corridor for the community.
The transparent facade integrates native vegetation with the streetscape and terraces inside the building.
The renovated public realm surrounding the building provides respite from city life. The design includes inviting public spaces, native and drought-tolerant vegetation, public seating and ample bike parking. Across the street is a light rail station.
Inspiring Civic Pride and Engagement
A two-story portico with expressed structural columns invites people into the building’s main lobby. The translucent glass facade at the base offers views into committee chambers clad in native California wood.
Constituents can interact with each other and participate in their government in public spaces on the first two floors.
Toward a Net-Zero Future
As an all-electric, net-zero energy and net-zero carbon emissions facility, the building is leading California toward a net-zero future. It has achieved LEED-NC Platinum certification.
A landmark arrangement with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District for off-site renewable power generation via a dedicated photovoltaic array helps the building achieve net-zero energy. The building features 100% LED lighting, individual task lights and EV-charging stations.
A centralized building management system allows for real-time building performance analysis and mechanical system fine-tuning. TV monitors in the ground-floor lobby show real-time energy use and renewable energy output performance data about the building. An immersive display highlights the building’s sustainability strategies to educate the public about the building’s overall environmental impact.
Design for Well-Being and Flexibility
It was important for the design to improve the health and well-being of the people who use the building.
The high-performance facade and efficient mechanical systems enhance the comfort of occupants. They also provide access to natural light and sweeping views of the outdoors. The landscaped streetscape, outdoor terraces and central stair encourage movement and engagement with the outdoors. A third-floor café serves local and healthy foods.
Going beyond LEED v4 requirements, the team chose healthy materials with high recycled content. The building includes more than 50 products with Health Product Declarations (HPDs), 150 with Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), 75 products with material ingredient reporting and several other low-emitting certified products. All the interior wood is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified.
After the new Capitol Annex project is completed, this building will accommodate up to 2,200 legislative and executive staff in a highly flexible, collaborative office space.
The progressive design-build team included HOK’s San Francisco studio, who led the design and architecture team, with Dreyfuss + Blackford as associate architects and Hensel Phelps as general contractor. Gilbane was the construction manager.