Jesse Unruh Building Treanor Justice design studio

Jesse Unruh Building Rehabilitation

State of California Department of General Services
Architectural Design
Historic Preservation
Sacramento, CA
Project type
DPR Construction, Perkins&Will
Zero Net Energy, tracking LEED Platinum

Progressive design-build project to revitalize and rehabilitate historic state office building

The Jesse Unruh Building, constructed in 1929, has continuously served the State of California. Limited improvements have been made over the years, including the 1996 seismic upgrade. By 2015, the Department of General Services had ranked the five-story, state-owned office building as the fifth facility most in need of renovation or replacement in Sacramento.

DGS started this progressive design-build project in 2021 to revitalize and rehabilitate the historic building while improving tenant comfort and safety.

Rendering of elevator lobby rehabilitation
Rendering of renovated office space
Rendering of meeting room
Rendering of renovated open office space
Rendering of breakroom/lounge
Rendering of new boardroom

Preparing for the next 50 to 100 years

The design team, led by Treanor as the architect of record, validated a previous condition assessment through field verification and non-destructive exploration. Working with our design-build partner, DPR Construction, we completed select destructive investigations to reveal existing unknown conditions where possible. We developed a historic treatment plan to guide the design, preserve historic character-defining features, and rehabilitate significant spaces such as ground-floor and elevator lobbies, corridors, and restrooms. Our design team also verified the program, making modifications to ensure departmental adjacencies and requirements and taking advantage of space efficiencies. We designed progressive workplace environments to be integrated into spaces that were significantly modified over the last century.

To prepare the building and site for the next 50 to 100 years, the design team planned and developed upgrades for all building systems, including a seismic retrofit, MEP replacements, automatic fire sprinkler installation, fire alarm upgrades, and universal accessibility enhancements. For the building’s exterior—a historic envelope including granite, terracotta, and brick cladding—we designed repairs, cleaning, and masonry repointing. Historic windows will be restored, and non-historic inefficient aluminum windows will be replaced. The landscaping and site access are also to be upgraded, and the historic fountain will undergo a historic restoration that will be capped off with the installation of a replicated fountainhead.

Black and white picture of the Jesse Unruh Building from the 1930s.
Courtesy of the California History Room, California State Library, Sacramento, California.

Preserving historic character while improving energy efficiency

Working with DGS, the progressive design-build team developed a project that will exceed the State’s targeted sustainability goals of Zero Net Energy and LEED Silver Certification – tracking LEED Platinum – and carbon-neutral goals for operating without reliance on fossil fuels. At the same time, the project will comply with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and the California Historic Building Code.

Known as State Office Building No. 1 when it was opened, the Jesse Unruh Building will continue to serve the State after the $144 million project is completed in 2025 when the State Treasurer’s Office will reoccupy the building.

Project contact

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