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Bob Casey U.S. Courthouse

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Which federal building are you talking about, Bar? Are you talking about the Leeland Federal Building (which I personally think is pretty straightforward and non-offense if not attractive) or the building further up on Smith Street near the BOA Tower (which, I agree, isn't the best looking building in the world)?

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come on!! i love this building. it's a cube with perfectly square windows spaced apart in a perfect gridlike symmetry. it simple. each window, from the inside, makes each view look like a framed picture.

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Well, if someone had any smarts, that was almost done several years ago.

McVeigh (May the Devil give him metal spiked suppositories dipped in lemon juice and inserts them with great vigor) took out the wrong Government building. He intention was to blow up the building that planned the Waco assaults, but he was too much of an idiot to know that Oklahoma probably wouldn't have been the place it was planned.

Personally I'm indifferent about the building, but it's functional and simple in its design and there is a certain elegence to it.

Ricco

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I used to think this was a really ugly building, but it's grown on me. Now I think it is just a somewhat ugly building. Apparently well-built, though. During tropical storm Allison it didn't flood even though everything around it did. The building is sometimes said to have inspired Michael Graves' Portland Building:

portland.jpg

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Well, if someone had any smarts, that was almost done several years ago.

McVeigh (May the Devil give him metal spiked suppositories dipped in lemon juice and inserts them with great vigor) took out the wrong Government building.

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Ah, I see. That goes against the information that was given to me by people that interviewed that mental defect (May whatever devil shove something sharp and uncomfortable in every oriface).

But as far as I know, my information was good, but he DID put out alot of information, so it's possible I might have missed something.

Ricco

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It is uuugly. But, it does lok like a prison, which is somewhat of justice in itself.

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Ah, I see. That goes against the information that was given to me by people that interviewed that mental defect (May whatever devil shove something sharp and uncomfortable in every oriface). 

But as far as I know, my information was good, but he DID put out alot of information, so it's possible I might have missed something.

Ricco

The "Turner Diaries" is about 2 people over throwing the goverment, blowing up buildings, destroying cities, to begin earth as a pure... (White race). Yes the book is racist, and so was Tim, am I? no... I just know about it.

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check this out!!

link to old story in the Chronicle Federal building stays dry amid soggy downtown

if you can't access the story, here's the best parts...

One reason it remained dry is that the building isn't connected to anything. It is "self-contained," as one court security guard put it.

For security purposes, it has no access to downtown's tunnel system and it is not connected to any underground garages.

Another reason the courthouse wasn't damaged is that it is built like a fortress. When it was constructed in 1961, at the height of the Cold War, the basement was intended to be a bomb shelter, said David Bradley, chief deputy clerk of the courthouse.

At one time, bottled water and canned food were stored in the basement.

The walls are so dense that cell phones often will not work inside the building.

The building is constructed of reinforced concrete with a limestone facade.

"This building is definitely a strong structure," Bradley said.

"I think back to Hurricane Alicia in 1983. The only damage to this building was a cracked window on the seventh floor. I can't remember any major catastrophe that we've had that has affected the building."

The courthouse, where 600 federal employees work, has 12 floors and a basement. It has square windows that look like hatches and are described by Bradley and others as "ugly."

The building houses the offices and courtrooms of 10 federal district judges and five federal magistrate judges. It also houses the offices and courtrooms of five bankruptcy judges.

Federal prosecutors do not have offices in the building.

It also has two clerks' offices, where attorneys file civil and criminal pleadings.

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I used to think this was a really ugly building, but it's grown on me.  Now I think it is just a somewhat ugly building.  Apparently well-built, though.  During tropical storm Allison it didn't flood even though everything around it did.  The building is sometimes said to have inspired Michael Graves' Portland Building:

portland.jpg

Looks like his Portland building inspired his toasters.

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Well, if someone had any smarts, that was almost done several years ago.

McVeigh (May the Devil give him metal spiked suppositories dipped in lemon juice and inserts them with great vigor) took out the wrong Government building.  He intention was to blow up the building that planned the Waco assaults, but he was too much of an idiot to know that Oklahoma probably wouldn't have been the place it was planned.

Personally I'm indifferent about the building, but it's functional and simple in its design and there is a certain elegence to it.

Ricco

I have to agree to a certain extent. It may be functional and simple, and even visually appealing in a way. On the whole, it's pretty boring though...

As for the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, it looked to be the least "Federal" looking of any of the Federal buildings out there. It had a decent sized plaza, tons of windows, and seemed more accessible than others. The transformation into the memorial grounds is remarkable though, and the plaza still looks well preserved.

It's good to see that it's replacement is still different. It's sheathed in glass, still has a plaza, and from the few looks I've had at it- it seems to look similar to the bank being built along Allen Parkway, at the very least with the colors of building materials if not in design.

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I tend to disagree with the general disparagement of this building.

I do agree that it is not exactly beautiful, but I think it is unique and interesting.

Has anyone seen a similar building (square with small square extracted windows) anywhere else in the country?

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You're right. It does nothing for the senses. I do like the new FED building though.

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The Bob Casey Courthouse is one ugly structure. I cannot stand that place. It doesn't really inspire a sense of justice in me.

Yup, been there many times (I used to be a courier, lots of attorney clients). Built like a brick outhouse and looks like one too. Our Nextel two-ways never worked once we entered its bowels (and, from what I heard, our alpha pagers sometimes/often didn't either).

All this time has passed, all these replies, and I didn't see the one that immediately popped into my mind when I read the first sentence above...

It's a courthouse, right? Of course it's ugly, justice is blind :P

The building houses bankruptcy courts, it represents a last visual vestige of debtor's prison :huh:

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I have a friend who's a civil engineer from the MidWest, who now lives in Austin. Last year I showed around downtown Houston for the first time, and without seeing any signs, and before I could point them out myself, he told me which buildings were the federal courthouse, and what building was the post office. He said he can always find the federal buildings.

He also said that an engineer will design a building that will last forever, but everyone will want for it to be torn down, while an architect will design a building that people will want to last forever, but it will fall down. His words, not mine.

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Guest danax
it looks like a jail ... God help the people that have to work there.

The style is typical of 45 years ago. Bland. The Modernist cycle had run it's course and I suppose minimalism seemed modern in 1961.

Unfortunately, to most people the style of that era will always seem just plain ugly and, for that reason, most remaining examples, like the Central Bank building in Midtown, are likely to get demolished at some point.

So I figure this one too will eventually get tumbled. Besides, the feng shui is all wrong anyway.

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Hmm..the thing about this building is..if it would be given a bit of a makeover, it would not look bad at all. Take a look at Berlin, for Example..there are several modern day structures there consisting of the same basic formula- protruding box windows, and a box shape. Of course, those have better facade materials, and such...and more details, such as awnings, etc, but, if such fixes were done to this building, it would be pretty cool.

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We can only hope there are plans to build a federal courts building in the Courts District in the north end of downtown- would make sense to me.

I think that particular block would be great for the city to build a "City Museum"- a place to showcase Houston's history and it's cultural heritage. It would also be a great place to relocate Houston's vistors center.

The overall area- City Hall, the main library, Sam Houston Park, Hermann Square, Tranquillity Park plus a city musuem, would be a great place for citizens and vistors to gain insight into the city's past and present.

Edited by Tejo

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I'd prefer our visitor center not be located by all the dirty scuzballs going to court.

Check out Congress St. in the morning. It's a mixed bag of freaks. You can pick the guilty ones a mile away by their grecian formula hair-do and their $3 suits.

Not the face I'd like our visitors to see.

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I'd prefer our visitor center not be located by all the dirty scuzballs going to court.

Check out Congress St. in the morning. It's a mixed bag of freaks. You can pick the guilty ones a mile away by their grecian formula hair-do and their $3 suits.

Not the face I'd like our visitors to see.

Congress is where the Divorce courts are, and yeah, they do look freaky...worse than the thugs in the criminal courts on Franklin!

The long-term plan for the Federal Courts is to build a new building near the Federal Detention Center on Texas and Caroline. There is a parking lot at Capital and Caroline, catty-corner to the jail that would be used. Customs House is across Caroline from the lot as well, so you'd have a little mini-federal campus there.

Who knows when it would ever happen.

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it looks like a jail ... God help the people that have to work there.

I think that is is SO ironic that the damn place looks like something out of the mid 60's Soviet Union.

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I never really liked this building either pretty much for all the reasons stated above. It would be nice if they relocate this courthouse to where all those other courthouses are. Demolish this one and add some sort of theater therefore linking the Hobby Center with the rest of the theater district. But what to put in it's place...... some one mentioned in another thread that Downtown needs more mainstream Movie theaters .....so how about a multi story AMC 100 theater. With reclining, speaker embedded seats. Where major world premiers could be held, to include independent and foreign films. Of course have some screenings that are 21 and over with booze and food.

I really don't care as long as something else is built there....Ok I'm rambling now....... going to bed now ....it's late...night night people

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I'd prefer our visitor center not be located by all the dirty scuzballs going to court.

Check out Congress St. in the morning. It's a mixed bag of freaks. You can pick the guilty ones a mile away by their grecian formula hair-do and their $3 suits.

Not the face I'd like our visitors to see.

I thought I was clear? :unsure:

What I suggested is that the block currently occupied by the Federal Courts building should be the site of a "City Museum" with the city's Vistors Center located within.

And that the Federal Courts building should be moved to the "Courts Distrct".

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I thought I was clear? :unsure:

What I suggested is that the block currently occupied by the Federal Courts building should be the site of a "City Museum" with the city's Vistors Center located within.

And that the Federal Courts building should be moved to the "Courts Distrct".

I agree 100%. Although I do like the idea of looking out my window to watch the upcoming Enron circus.

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Hi, all. This is my first time posting a message here! I love this site, I love Houston and its buildings and am thrilled to find a place where people are debating and talking about my hometown's great archtecture.

I LOVE the Federal Building. It's a great building, one that tells something of the time in which it was built. It's our own Cold War relic. Its impregnability in the face of storms and floods should count as proof of its worthiness.

Its confectionery cube shape fascinated me as a kid. Its little grid of windows plays like an architectural parable of democratic populism: each window is equal.....

My big memory of this building is...... walking up to it with some of my high school friends during one of our "downtown" ventures (I grew up in Spring), and as we approached the entrance, THE BUILDING SPOKE TO US through a speaker and said, "May I Help You?"......... Big Brother was watching!! very KGB.....

This building's "ugliness" is akin to the Exxon Building at 800 Bell: it's only "ugly" when viewed outside its historical context. It's from that time period when you can really sense the architects working against the harshness of the hot climate----- devising ways for the buildings to "reflect" or "radiate" the heat........this bldg. seems to be made to just shut it all out. I love how each square window has that kind of thermal green glass of the period........... do the windows open? does anyone know?

I love this little building, it's not a perfect building but I think something about its strangeness helped spawn some other weird buildings. Downtown HOU is big enough to keep it.

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Hmm..the thing about this building is..if it would be given a bit of a makeover, it would not look bad at all. Take a look at Berlin, for Example..there are several modern day structures there consisting of the same basic formula- protruding box windows, and a box shape. Of course, those have better facade materials, and such...and more details, such as awnings, etc, but, if such fixes were done to this building, it would be pretty cool.

Have to be a huge makeover, the inside is twice as bad as the outside. :D

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It is uuugly. But, it does lok like a prison, which is somewhat of justice in itself.

for the longest time i thought it was a prison.

when i saw the sign riding by, i was surprised.

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My big memory of this building is...... walking up to it with some of my high school friends during one of our "downtown" ventures (I grew up in Spring), and as we approached the entrance, THE BUILDING SPOKE TO US through a speaker and said, "May I Help You?"......... Big Brother was watching!! very KGB.....

hehe! :lol:

Welcome to HAIF, almightyhouston, and thanks for sharing the memory. I think George Orwell would have been fascinated by the Federal Building, too.

I agree that it's a great emblem of Cold War architecture. I've also heard that it's just as substantial as it looks, with extremely thick walls. Too bad (IMO) that the ground floor was renovated a few years ago in order to make it more in keeping with the Theater District themes; I liked the little turquoise tiles that used to cover the walls.

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Welcome amightyhouston! :D

The odd thing about the Federal building is that it was an anomaly even for its time (1962-3). It doesn't resemble architecture of that period in almost any way. If I didn't know better I would have placed it 20 years earlier. Despite the questionable architecture, this has the distinction of being the Houston building that people see in national news more than almost any other - thanks to the major trials held there. <_<

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As much as I hate the style of downtown Federal Court House, I do like the spiffing up that it is getting. They are painting the window frames Red. I don't know who came up with the design with little tiny windows, perhaps some government architech. What do you think?

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I worked in the Federal Courthouse one summer in law school, and I was told that the courthouse was designed during the cold war and was supposed to survive a nuclear attack on the City!

This may sound absurd, but the first few stories have many extra load bearing columns to provide redundant support. For example, the magistrate judges' courtrooms have pillars in the middle of the room. These columns really stand out, and I would imagine that they would be designed around under normal circumstances.

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