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Guest C-Dawg Njaim

Toledo: Downtown: Federal Courthouse renovation and addition

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Since arriving in Toledo for spring break, I've heard word that a major project is about to be underway involving the construction of a new federal courthouse in Toledo. I can't find any details on what type of building it is or where its location is at, but supposedly the land has been aquired for construction. The Blade mentioned the new federal courthouse in an article yesterday, but gave no details. The following is from 2002 at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/cpquery/?&dbname=cp107&sid=cp107yHCac&refer=&r_n=hr152.107&item=&sel=TOC_212576&

 

The Committee is aware of a recent land exchange between the City of Toledo and GSA that provided GSA with a site eminently suitable for constructing a new federal plaza to include a new federal building and courthouse. GSA is also in the process of completing an 11(b) Report of Building Project Survey to identify and characterize the needs for federal construction in the Toledo area. The Committee urges GSA to move forward on this construction project with all due speed and to take factors such as site availability and multi-purpose space requirements into serious consideration in formulating its construction priorities for this and coming years.

 

Does anyone know any of the details?? I know many recent courthouse constructions were huge projects and Cleveland recently built a skyscraper that drastically changed the skyline. Here's a picture of the current Toledo Federal Courthouse building.

 

Toledo_Bldg_maps.jpg

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I read something to the extent that UT law wants to move into the current courthouse a few days ago. This would mean a new one must be built, but I havent heard a thing about it till I read this. From what you posted it seems like two new buildings would be built..That would be nice. But with how things work in Toledo, I see it competed in ohhhhhh....2053, if at all.

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Design set for federal courthouse in Toledo

$96M project proposed for downtown Toledo

BY SARA FELSENSTEIN

BLADE STAFF WRITER

 

The new, contemporary design for the federal courthouse in Toledo may be far from traditional, U.S. District Judge James Carr said, but if it is built, the building will be both "fulfilling to the purposes of a courthouse" and "a magnificent piece of architecture."

 

The new courthouse -- to be built on the Civic Center Mall if federal funding comes through and it comes to fruition -- is expected to cost $96 million.

 

It would face the Lucas County Courthouse.

 

http://www.toledoblade.com/Courts/2011/06/15/Design-set-for-federal-courthouse.html

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Wow that's ugly, and not even a little bit urban.  That roof has to be a joke.  It just has to.   

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This is the worst building design in America since 1964. What a terrible waste of 96 million taxpayer dollars! If this is built, it will be the ugliest building in Toledo and an insult to the beautiful building it's meant to replace. This is one giant leap backwards for mankind.

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I'm completely over the "look at all these different width windows" concept and that roof is a hot mess of something making it the worst looking professional model I've ever seen.  Just wait till it's 15-25yrs old and they start patching that thing, good grief.

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First - congratulations on downtown Toledo getting a $96 million federal courthouse.

 

Second - too bad about the design.  I'm afraid I must agree with the majority opinion here that this courthouse design reeks.

 

I saw the accompying article 'Ambitious building designs invite debate' that talks about public buildings with modern designs.  They looked at the Scottish Parliament Building and Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall.  But I was surprised they didn't mention the recent public building that this Toledo Courthouse design looks like almost a direct copy of.  The California Academy of Sciences opened in 2008 and was designed by Renzo Piano.  That design has a similar horizontal focus with an undulating roof.  However, the CAS building has a different context (it's located in Golden Gate Park) and a different use (it's a science museum).

 

California Academy of Sciences Building

5845283571_24c7b2255d_b_d.jpg

 

 

Proposed Toledo Federal Courthouse

5845283623_841d81cbc0_b_d.jpg

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I have mixed feelings about this building, but it is hardly "the worst building design in America since 1964." Not even close. The main problem is that the roof seems a little overwhelming, but the rest of it looks fine; and like much contemporary architecture, will it still be appealing twenty years from now? Maybe it's just that we've become so overexposed to certain "looks"--like Frank Gehry's--that it all starts to look cheap and stale after a while (well, maybe only his stuff--lol).

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From the Blade comments section:

 

Is there still time to look at other designs ? Look at the picture again, the roof looks like 3 eggs over easy on a square plate add some bacon and toast and you've got the design for a breakfast diner !!

 

Gotta love the consensus we see on this board regarding this courthouse issue. Sure seems like a nonstarting no-brainer to 86 this idea altogether. The only thing I can say on behalf of building this facility is that I would prefer to see it built here rather than in Afghanistan

 

Forget about the hideousness of this structure ... add rooms for all those left homeless by the tanked economy! And remind me again how the U.S. better than other countries that build fortresses with starving people watching?

 

The oversized roof will nicely shade all the homeless wandering the streets in the summer begging for money.

 

I thought our Federal and State Governments were CUTTING SPENDING!! Then we see this horrible design that looks like a scene from the Jetsons cartoon show for an outrageous price! IF WE NEED MORE COURTROOM SPACE, USE AND RENOVATE EXISTING BUILDINGS! This building would be as out of place and RIDICULOUS as the new buildings at the Toledo Museum of Art!! OK Republican majority--KILL THIS WASTE OF MONEY and CUT OUT THE PORK FROM OUR BUDGETS!!!

 

The country is on the verge of going belly-up due to the national debt yet, we have $96,000,000 to spend on another "rock-n-roll-hall-of-fame" type building! What the hell is wrong with the federal courthouse we now have?

 

For god's sake Marcy! Do something with your 26 years in Congress and get this grotesque trash squashed! It's even worse than that modernist carbunkle they stuck on the end of the Toledo Museum of Art...

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Yeah, the roof is clearly the problem.  Take it off and the design wouldn't be bad.


"You don't just walk into a bar and mix it up by calling a girl fat" - buildingcincinnati speaking about new forumers

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I wouldn't have made the 1964 comment if it weren't for that roof. I think it does look like a diner...though downtown Toledo desperately needs a 24-hour diner.

 

My bigger issue is the same issue most Toledoans have with this- it's obvious pork that is going to do very little for the city other than some temp construction jobs. The city has thousands of abandoned buildings that should be saved before building anything new. You can just as easily create construction jobs by renovating those. The suggestion of renovating the Jefferson Center for additional space was a good one. How about the Pythian Castle? The Madison Building? Or how about the plethora of empty school buildings that TPS is demolishing to land those grossly misguided state tax dollars? The city is loaded with abandoned architectural gems that are facing the wrecking ball. It is extremely depressing and citizens are very angry about it. We've seen a lot of protests.

 

$96 million could do a lot more in Toledo than build an ugly courthouse that isn't really needed and everyone hates. To put it in perspective, this will cost as much as the new hockey arena! And you can be sure it won't create the spinoff. Toledo is deep in despair, and I can think of a million ways to better use this money to improve the city.

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It looks like a rolodex from 80s.  Or maybe a lampshade that's trying too hard.  And half the damn model is wasted space-- wide berth, no sense of context, just endless plazas with sickly little trees.  Who puts dead trees in their model?  This guy. 

 

Agreed that $96 million could do wonders for Toledo and spending it on this is insane.  It's not that there's no money around here, it's that our leadership squanders fortunes left and right on awful projects.  This really needs to stop.

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Found some more renderings of the Federal Courthouse proposal at a Sept. 2010 story at Fox Toledo TV website:  http://www.foxtoledo.com/dpp/news/local/New-federal-courthouse-in-Toledo-

 

The architect's website also has some more renderings:  http://www.yazdanistudio.com/

 

I've been a defender of some modern architecture on this site.  And I don't think that all modern architecture is bad.  But this design is just indefensible.  Mostly because it embodies the worst aspects of modern architecture:

 

1) Anti-urban:  Overly large windswept plazas, overly large setbacks from public streets, lack of a clearly defined entry

2) Anti-context:  All the models and renderings don't show any surrounding context - why bother when the building looks like it was designed for Abu Dhabi.

3) Sculpture for sculpture sake:  The tendency to treat a building as if it's a large sculpture

 

Removing the roof would be an improvement.  But unfortunately there's alot more wrong with this design than just the roof.

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^Unfortunately the set backs and large plaza's may be a 21st century US government design criteria for security purposes.  Of course this still can be done 100% better.

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Then maybe these buildings should no longer be located in downtown cores.  If they're targets of such magnitude that it affects the architecture, perhaps the chance for collateral damage is too high and they should be built in less dense areas.

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From the Blade comments section:

 

For god's sake Marcy! Do something with your 26 years in Congress and get this grotesque trash squashed! It's even worse than that modernist carbunkle they stuck on the end of the Toledo Museum of Art...

:wtf: I assume that the "carbunkle" (sp?) in question is the near-universally critically praised Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum. And after looking at more renderings of the new courthouse, I actually like it more. Compared to most institutional federal architecture, it's actually pretty good. Maybe some of the detractors here can provide an example of an architectural style or the work of a noted architect they would find more aesthetically pleasing for this project.

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^The carbuncle is Frank Gehry's Center for Visual Arts. Most people like the Glass Pavilion.

 

Maybe some of the detractors here can provide an example of an architectural style or the work of a noted architect they would find more aesthetically pleasing for this project.

 

The current building in Toledo:

79federalcourthouse.jpg

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The federal courthouse in Youngstown is maybe 10 years old and looks 10 times better.  Also, the lobby of the federal courthouse in Cleveland (which is a vertical structure) features  numerous picutres of high-quality government buildings.

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Not to get to far off topic, but the GSA has clearly initiated a federal courthouse building boom the last 15-20 years....does anybody know if Pittsburgh is in line (or if one is currently under construction).  The last time I was in it was about 8-9 years ago and, while huge, it was absolutely the dumpiest federal courthouse I had ever been in.

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The federal courthouse in Youngstown is maybe 10 years old and looks 10 times better.  Also, the lobby of the federal courthouse in Cleveland (which is a vertical structure) features  numerous picutres of high-quality government buildings.

 

Yes, Youngstown's is quite a gem, what is it that really sticks out to you? The faux smokestacks out front or the lack of any type of street presence on of the the busier corners in Downtown Ytown? I will give it some credit though as it is one of the most contemporary structures that Robert Stern has done.

 

courthouseex2.th.jpg

 

 

Then you have the other gem in Cleveland, yikes.

 

stokescourthouse.th.jpg

 

The Federal Government has commissioned some great Architects for Courthouses, and this one in Toledo is no exception. Here are some of the other recent works:

 

Austin, TX - Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects

 

090513austincourthouser.th.jpg

 

El Paso - Antonie Predock

 

topkx.th.jpg

 

Eugene, Oregon - Morphosis

 

eugenea.jpg

 

 

Lets not forget that most of us will never even see the roof of this building in real life as you will be looking up at it from ground level.

 

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The Blade has a little more info on the courthouse expansion project in this follow-up article.  The originally reported plan to abandon the existing 1932 Federal Courthouse in favor of a new courthouse at a new location has been shelved.  This approved funding would renovate the existing historic courthouse building and build an addition to it:

 

TOLEDO FEDERAL COURTHOUSE

Deal includes $95.4M for renovation project

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN, BLADE STAFF WRITER

Published: Saturday, 12/19/2015

 

A long-awaited addition and renovation project at the federal courthouse in downtown Toledo could be under construction by 2018.  Congress included funding for the $95.4 million project in an appropriations bill approved Friday by the Senate.

( . . . )

U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey Helmick envisions selecting an architect in 2016, finalizing a design in 2017, and breaking ground in 2018 for what is expected to be an 85,000-square-foot annex.  It would house the district court and a renovation of the 1932 Ashley courthouse to house the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the pretrial and probation office of the district court.

( . . . )

Judge Helmick said he does not know what the annex and renovation will look like, but he said he is pleased that the plans will provide new and secure space for the courts and related offices and at the same time preserve the historic Ashley courthouse.  The court at one time was eyeing a plan to build a replacement courthouse, but those plans were shelved.  The process for evaluating space needs in federal courthouses was later revamped, and the current plan for an annex and renovation was developed.

 

MORE: http://www.toledoblade.com/Courts/2015/12/19/Deal-includes-95-4M-for-renovation-project.html

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Great news the historic courthouse is being renovated like it should be!

 

Does this mean the ripoff of the Cal Academy of Sciences isn't going to happen? They're talking about renovations and annexes now, so I assume the backlash in Toledo is leading to smarter use of this money...

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Looks like the Federal Courthouse renovation and expansion project in downtown Toledo is a go!!

 

First, the initial report from the Blade and a couple photos of the existing Federal Courthouse building:

 

http://www.toledoblade.com/Courts/2016/06/02/Congress-approved-more-than-100-million-in-federal-funding-for-renovation-of-Toledo-s-U-S-District-Courthouse-and-construction-of-an-annex.html

 

27265247420_9e9ab4e12c_o_d.jpg

 

27507042046_9f15736f91_k_d.jpg

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The more lengthy follow-up report from the Blade:

 

$104M secured for upgrades to city’s federal courthouse Civic Center Mall revival also in works

By Mark Reiter | BLADE STAFF WRITER

Published on June 3, 2016 | Updated 11:00 a.m.

 

The revitalization of a downtown Toledo icon got a big boost from the federal government on Thursday.  U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) announced that funding for the $104 million upgrade and expansion of the historic James M. Ashley and Thomas W.L. Ashley Courthouse has been finalized.  The announcement was made at the beginning of the Civic Center Mall oversight commission’s first meeting in months.

 

The project for the new 96,000-square-foot annex and modernization of the 1932 building was included in the fiscal year 2016 omnibus spending bill approved in the House and Senate in December.  Miss Kaptur said the funding commitment for the courthouse provides an opportunity for cohesive planning and critical thinking in the Civic Center Mall redevelopment.

( . . . )

The timeline for the courthouse project calls for an architect to be under contract by October, with building design completed in 2017.  Construction is to start in 2018.  Frank Giblin, director of the urban development program for the GSA, said his office will work with local agencies and tap into government resources on sustainability for the mall renovation as it relates to the courthouse project.

 

MORE: http://www.toledoblade.com/local/2016/06/03/104M-secured-for-upgrades-to-city-s-federal-courthouse.html

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