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Groundbreaking for new 'cube' federal courthouse on Thursday in downtown Los Angeles

By Hayley Fox
Published: Tuesday, August 06, 2013, at 04:05PM
rendering provided by the U.S. General Services Administration

The new courthouse looks a lot like a cube and will be designed to let in more natural light.

A large lot that has been empty for years on 1st Street and Broadway will soon be transformed into a federal courthouse. The new building will look a lot like a large, glass cube and include 24 courtrooms and 32 judicial chambers.

Developers are scheduled to break ground on the project Thursday, and will begin excavation and foundation work in the following weeks. By 2016, the building should be completed.

Traci Madison is a public affairs officer for the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), the agency overseeing the construction of the new $319 million courthouse. The project has had multiple false starts over the years, an issue Madison attributes largely to funding.

"The biggest challenge with building the courthouse was developing a design that met the courts’ requirements within our financial limitations. Early on, the escalating building costs in the Los Angeles area could not accommodate the scope of the original design," Madison wrote in an email to KPCC.

She said the GSA worked with the U.S. District Courts to "re-scope the project." In 2011, they came to an agreement and were able to move forward with the project.

Renderings of the new courthouse depict a building with a lot of natural light, and a "faceted curtain wall façade" that appears to light up at night. Last year KPCC reported that the half-million square-foot building would also be “sustainable” and include enhanced security features that didn't exist at the current federal courthouse.

This building on Spring Street was built in the 1930's, and the GSA told KPCC that it has asbestos problems, security challenges and needs a seismic retrofit.

Which leads to the question: Will filling one Downtown hole just lead to the creation of another?

As of now, there is no plan for the old courthouse — Madison said the GSA is still evaluating their options.

To see additional renderings of the new courthouse, click here.


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