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02.23.2012
Now In Session
Details revealed for LA's Federal Courthouse Commission.
The courthouse site on South Broadway.
Courtesy Bing

Last month we reported that LA’s long-dormant downtown federal courthouse was finally coming back to life, as the General Services Administration (GSA) announced plans to launch a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a design-build team. Yesterday the details of that job became a lot clearer at a “pre-solicitation” meeting, held at the LAPD headquarters downtown.

The new courthouse will be located on what is now a 3.7 acre pit at 107 S. Broadway, just down the street from Morphosis’ Caltrans building, LA City Hall, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall, among many other important buildings. It will be the most significant commission in the city outside of METRO’s Union Station Master Plan, whose winner has not yet been chosen.

The building will measure 600,000 square feet and is projected to cost $399 million. It will contain 24 courtrooms and 32 judicial chambers, and its primary tenants will include the U.S. District Court, the U.S. Marshals Service, the GSA, the Federal Public Defender and the U.S. Attorney’s office.

The project RFQ was released on February 6. GSA would not confirm an RFP date, but the project timeline calls for a contract to be awarded as soon as this August or September. Design is set to start by the end of this year, and GSA hopes the courthouse will be completed by 2016, a tight deadline driven largely, said officials, by an effort to avoid escalating construction costs.

William J. (Bill) Guerin, GSA’s assistant commissioner for project delivery, called it a “schedule-aggressive, budget-aggressive project.”

This will put pressure on the high profile field vying for the commission. Architects at the meeting included Morphosis, SOM, NBBJ, HMC, ZGF, Ehrlich Architects, Gehry Partners, Michael Maltzan Architects, Rios Clementi Hale, Gruen Associates, Brooks+ Scarpa, Perkins+Will (who won the previous competition for the site, a plan that was never built), Fentress Architects, and Cannon Design. Those that proceed with the RFQ will partner with an engineer and a contractor for the bid. Unselected shortlisted teams, said the GSA, will each receive a $250,000 stipend. (A significant improvement over Metro’s $10,000 stipend for Union Station.)

The winner will be selected by a team of five that includes two GSA architects, two GSA construction management experts, and a representative from the courts. The team will be advised by a “national architecture peer,” chosen from a pool of what GSA considers to be top U.S. architects, pointed out GSA spokesperson Peter Gray. Gray added that the selection team would be made up of several specialties because the commission will include architects, engineers and contractors.

“We look forward to seeing what the genius of the group brings,” said Lawrence Hales, GSA senior contracting officer.

Sam Lubell