Work Begins on new L.A. Federal Courthouse

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Officials broke ground last week on a $319 million, 10-story Los Angeles Federal Courthouse that has been in the works for almost a decade.
     The environmentally friendly downtown courthouse is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2016.
     Mayor Eric Garcetti, Chief Federal Judge George King, and Judge Margaret Morrow were among the city and federal officials who attended the groundbreaking ceremony, one block from City Hall.
     "I'm happy to see construction beginning on the new Los Angeles Federal Courthouse," Mayor Garcetti said. "Our federal court is among the busiest in the country, and we are greatly in need of a new courthouse. This project will create thousands of jobs and turn an empty lot into an important part of the Civic Center cityscape."
     The 600,000-square foot courthouse on a 3.6-acre lot at First Street and South Broadway will replace the courthouse on North Spring Street. That building, built in 1938, is beset by overcrowding and security challenges in transportation of prisoners, the General Services Administration said.
     The new courthouse is part of a revitalization of downtown Los Angeles, which includes of a new Police Department headquarters, the California Department of Transportation Building, a $234-million makeover of the Hall of Justice, and the newly developed Grand Park.
     The new cube-shaped tower will hold 24 courtrooms and 32 judicial chambers for active and senior judges of the Central District of California.
     The U.S. Marshals Service will share the building, as will trial preparation offices for the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Federal Public Defender.
     The GSA in December 2012 awarded the $319 million design and construction contract to Clark Construction Group, and the architectural firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. Jacobs Project Management will manage the project.
     Skidmore, Owings and Merrill's design is "an innovative structural engineering concept that allows the cubic courthouse volume to appear to float over its stone base," the GSA said in a statement.
     The new courthouse's serrated façade will make the most of natural daylight and reduce energy consumption. An all-in-one cooling, heating and power system, and roof-mounted solar panels will help "create a high performance green building," the GSA said.
     "Additionally, the high efficiency building systems, water-efficient fixtures, and advanced irrigation systems will help the building meet its energy and water conservation goals," the agency added.
     Judge Morrow said she was "absolutely thrilled" that the judiciary will be housed in a "new and safe building." Judges have been asking for a new courthouse since the early 1990s.