Justice Center Expansion, $200+ Million and a Historic Raleigh Cost

The needs of the county are growing and Wake must provide proper justice services to all of us. To do this, Wake is expanding the current Public Safety Center with this new $214 million project pictured above. Here is the site in Google maps:

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The ugly parking deck, the Garland Jones building, and the Lawyers Building are all coming down for the expansion of the current site right next door. You may recognize these two buildings shown below.

The N&O has an article with more information. Here are some highlights:

Dubbed the Wake County Justice Center, the 11-story building will house criminal courtrooms as well as a number of county offices, including the Board of Commissioners’ meeting room, the county manager’s offices, the Register of Deeds and the Revenue Department. The current county courthouse will become the home for civil legal matters.

WHEN IT’LL BE DONE: Demolition is slated to begin by the end of this year, and the building is slated to be in use by 2013, according to a timeline of the project.

Wake County also has some information on their website, with more renderings of the building here.

I went out and got this picture yesterday. This is the current view from Nash square.

Before. Current justice center is tower in the back right

In 5 years, we’ll have this.

After. Replaces the deck and connects to current justice center

It is nothing too exciting. I guess this is one place I hope I never have to go inside? The building is a service to our county so if we do need this then I have no problem with expanded government services. The building is seeking a LEED certification, so I’m happy that there will be environmentally friendly elements to this new structure. The current parking deck being built on the site of The L will be used for employees commuting to work here. That means a rise in downtown workers and hopefully a rise in restaurants, shops, and living options in and near downtown for this increasing workforce.

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  1. I think this proposal is most dissapointing from serveral perspectives. I hope people will come out in force at the public hearings to ask the county and architects to do better.

    1. The loss of two buildings that are significant architectural features in downtown Raleigh is unacceptable. While I can appreciate the demolition of the parking structure in favor of an underground structure, the demolition of the Garland Jones County Building and the Lawyers building will be a tragic loss for a city that is consistently losing many of its historical and more interesting architectural features from years past to regrettably ordinary replacements. As a relatively young major city Raleigh has few early twentieth century mid-rise structures remaining. The Garland Jones building while not the typical ‘historical’ structure we usually think of, is a wonderful specimen of modern architecture that with some care could become again a beautiful gem in downtown. These older buildings are important reminders of past eras in the city and their loss will be devastating to the city fabric and its character.

    2. The environment strategies are ghastly insufficient. Seeking merely LEED certification sets the bar pretty low and does not represent the example government should be setting for its citizens. Governments such as the City of Seattle, The State of Washington, and The City of Chicago, (among others) require all publicly funded building to meet LEED Silver at a minimum. While I admire the commitment to storm water management, low VOC materials and recycled materials, the proposal could do much better. As the issues of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming promise to be the defining issues of this era, the justice center falls woefully short in curbing its own contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. Even though day-lighting strategies and computer managed HVAC systems are a good start, but the building should attempt to reduce its consumption. It should by reducing its heating and cooling loads by better taking advantage of its solar orientation. It should also attempt to reduce its consumption possibly by utilizing renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. Other less high tech methods are available. Were they even considered? Considering the use of recycled materials as a point for LEED certification while demolition two sizeable existing buildings is quite ironic. Where will the waste materials from this demolition go? Has this been considered? We need to shift our thinking in the building industry to how the structures we build, renovate and demolish will affect our environment and the generations who will inherit it. The American Institute of Architects has set a goal to reduce carbon emissions contributed by buildings and construction by 50% by 2010 with the overall goal to be carbon neutral by 2030. The architects of this building and the government officials managing the project should follw the AIA’s lead. We can no longer afford to consume with out considering the cost in the long run.

    3. The architecture of the building is ordinary and forgettable at best. The post-modern tendency of the new building copies architectural motifs of the past and does not reflect the century in which it will be built. It does not appear to adequately consider its context or the environment conditions of the site. The existing courthouse, the Garland-Jones building, and the Lawyers Building clearly reflect the eras in which they were constructed and provide historical reference. The justice center should look like a 21st century building rather than a reproduction of a 20th century building with 21st century finials. As a significant municipal structure, the justice center has the opportunity to be and the duty to be a monumental and inspirational structure within the city fabric. The current design falls woefully short.

    4. The current proposal looks as though it will maintain the unfriendly pedestrian environment that currently exists along Martin and McDowell Streets. I hope the structure will provide some retail space along these streets to provide pedestrian links to the adjacent blocks. Retail spaces could provide the occupants and patrons of the building with additional places to eat and shop while also enhancing the quality of the street environment, a quality that the City of Raleigh is strongly advocating and currently very much lacking. These retail spaces could also provide some income to the county. Currently I believe retail space downtown is difficult to fill due to a current softness of demand which is a result of a lack of pedestrian activity. I imagine this makes private developers reluctant to build new retail space. Being a government entity that will occupy the building presumably for the next 100 years or more, the county could afford to provide retail spaces without the need to turn an immediate profit, which could greatly contribute to developing a critical mass of retail space that could eventually result in higher demand, more retail and a very active and interesting urban environment.

    I was born and raised in Raleigh and am very excited to see much of the new building that is happening downtown. The city is on the cusp of developing a downtown that will hopefully be exciting and lively. It will be tragic if this new Justice center becomes a step in the wrong direction and results in the elimination of older buildings and places that give the city its character and reflects its origins as a small southern town. I would like to see this proposal contribute more to the new lively street environment without being such a detriment to the old small town Raleigh. I would also like to see this building set an example of environmental stewardship that has been advocated by the American Institute of Architects’ goals for reducing carbon emissions by 50% by 2010 and carbon neutral by 2030. As a major economic engine and center for high tech industry in the region and nation, Wake County should exemplify in all aspects of its government, the forward thinking, technologically advanced culture that is representative of the county and reqion. Raise the bar, we can do better!

  2. The Garland Jones and Lawyers Buildings will be missed. This will be the worst historical loss since the Security National Bank building was demolished.

    The new justice building… very bland. Could’ve been fit on the block without losing the other two buildings.

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