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Harris County commissioners approved apending $13 million to add 4 levels to the parking garage behind the new civil courts building.

http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/m...politan/3267139

The article notes that the jury assembly area and central plaza will start construction in early 2008. Currently, this area is a surface lot in the middle of the complex.

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Found a render. Page designing this. They were the original architect.    https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Reconstruction-begins-on-flooded-Harris-County-1507

Functionally you are 100% correct.   Visually, the Civil Courthouse looks like it could be the Capital Building of Memorial City. Tack-a-rama. The Brown is the color of the giant leather Gal

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  • 5 months later...

Here's an update in the chronicle

The new building's facade combines the sleek style of glass skyscrapers with the bulkier style of stone buildings capped by arched roofs and ornamental designs.

I sure like this building not your normal run of the mill glass building

I can't wait for that plaza to be built. According to the article it's still a go.

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I'm sticking with my opinion on this one. This building is an abomination unto the Lord. Slapping a neo-classical styled dome on top of a cheap-looking, poorly executed and proportioned suburban style office building is like some kind of architectural bad joke. I keep hoping that it will be condemned on grounds of excessive bad taste.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 4 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Channel 13 news just had a story on Downtown parking. They mentioned that the surface lot in front will be replaced by that plaza soon. CourtsFX.jpg

Didn't give any dates though. They still mentioned underground parking under the GRB park. And that building (forget the name) that will be replacing office space for parking.

Edited by Houstonian in Iraq
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  • 4 weeks later...

Not sure why, but the Juvenile Justice Center was open for business today. They are still doing concrete and tile work on the front plaza, and movers were bringing in desks and chairs. However, the metal detectors were working and people were going in...so, of course I went in, too. Pretty decent looking, considering what the place looked like when it shut down in 2000. And of course, the tunnels run to every other courthouse, so I got to take a shortcut.

Probably, it will still be a week or two before it looks finished.

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The new courthouse is great! New technology in the courtrooms for exhibits...native limestone facade behind each bench...great views of the city from windows in the courts...cafeteria in the basement...much more needed space. Looks great and functions very well! I'm really impressed.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Sounds like we got taken <_< on the renovated Juvenile Justice Center or maybe the bugs just need to be worked out

But weeks after the justice center opened, some juvenile judges are questioning whether the county and taxpayers got a good return on the $58 million spent to renovate the old Criminal Courts Building

Chronicle article

Edited by Houstonian in Iraq
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Can someone "in the know" tell me if the County will light up the dome of the new Criminal Courts building?

I believe not since the building has been open for 2 months now and Ive seen no light.....boo!

I swear...building managers downtown need to have there heads checked to see if that little light bulb in there head still flickers "on" with any bright ideas. How architectural statements such as Texaco Heritage, can not be capitalized on by adding a little dramatic exterior lighting is way beyond me.

I mean think about....by making your building "more visible" to the casual eye and stand out from the rest of the crowd, it makes your building a little more attractive for future tennants looking for a showplace to call there home office. For some companies, it isnt just about amenities.....its about image.

And as for the County and its courthouse....they obviously have alot of pride in this project given the designs we've seen of the new court house and its new Justice Plaza. Would it not hurt show off this proud new addition by just lighting up the dome.....

Managers of these skyscrapers downtown need to wake the ____ up....or just take a trip to Chicago, New York, Shanghai, Tokyo, Dubai, etc. Its time to resurrect "Houston Proud" and regain this city's architectural edge or esle this city is destined to become the Detroit of the south while Dallas prospers. WAKE UP HOUSTON.

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Can someone "in the know" tell me if the County will light up the dome of the new Criminal Courts building?

I believe not since the building has been open for 2 months now and Ive seen no light.....boo!

I assume you mean to say the new Civil Courthouse, since the Criminal Courthouse has no dome. The cupola atop the dome of the Civil Courthouse IS lit from within. Perhaps it is not fully engulfed in light, but the lit from within cupola gives a nice effect, IMHO. I thought it had an elegant look from Minute Maid Park last week, especially since I am not overly impressed with the design of the building.

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Its time to resurrect "Houston Proud" and regain this city's architectural edge. WAKE UP HOUSTON.

I very much agree. To me, one of the best things that could be done to enhance Houston's architectural reputation wouldn't be to light the Courts building up, it would be to wrap it in a big tarp and hope nobody notices.

That building might be appropriate in, say, Des Moines or Boise, but no city hoping to be viewed as "world class" would ever design such second-rate kitsch for a major public building. It's such an embarrassment. :ph34r:

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CourtsFX.jpg

Anyone know the status of this place? When I was back in town I use to pass by this place all the time. While watching the Astros on TV I would see it in the background. It looks complete.

Have they started on that plaza up front?

What's the status on that juvenile court or is it jail? I believe It was an existing building they were renovating.

I've looked through pass threads, couldnt find anything(didn't look hard though).

I'm sure y'all would know.

when are they going to start work on the plaza? that parking lot is an eyesore now! and does anyone know if it will be level ground or if it will follow the current grade?

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  • 1 year later...

Plans for the plaza are still alive, and covered in a bond issue to be voted on in November.

$900 million bond plan may be on ballot

Harris County officials are planning to ask voters to approve the largest such package ever to fund jails, courthouse

By BILL MURPHY

Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle

Major projects that likely will be put before voters include:

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Plans for the plaza are still alive, and covered in a bond issue to be voted on in November.

Link to full Chronicle article

You misread the article. Yes, the plans are still alive, but the Jury Assembly structure and the plaza are not part of the proposed $900 million bond issue. According to the Harris County 2007 Capital Improvements Plan, "Construction is to begin this year after completion of an addition to the county parking garage at 1401 Congress."

Edited by Houston19514
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The Jury Assembly Room and Plaza will begin construction as soon as the additional parking to the Harris County Parking Gargae is finished. This is already funded, but since they are taking out a block of parking, they want the parking garage finished first.

I don't think they need another block of open space, since the plaza across the street will provide open space. I'd rather see the County sell the block. An office building across the street from every county courthouse would lease well.

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The Jury Assembly Room and Plaza will begin construction as soon as the additional parking to the Harris County Parking Gargae is finished. This is already funded, but since they are taking out a block of parking, they want the parking garage finished first.

I don't think they need another block of open space, since the plaza across the street will provide open space. I'd rather see the County sell the block. An office building across the street from every county courthouse would lease well.

aw red, I don't know, I kinda' like the thought of a plaza being there.....and we can call it "Justice Square." :)

I agree, a building would be nice, though. People would slit their wrists once construction starts, though. Traffic is a constant nightmare there.

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I very much agree. To me, one of the best things that could be done to enhance Houston's architectural reputation wouldn't be to light the Courts building up, it would be to wrap it in a big tarp and hope nobody notices.

That building might be appropriate in, say, Des Moines or Boise, but no city hoping to be viewed as "world class" would ever design such second-rate kitsch for a major public building. It's such an embarrassment. :ph34r:

I was sitting in the ballpark the other day and looking out at it. I think it actually looks pretty good.

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No, ricco, I like the planned plaza shown above. They are talking of demolishing the Family Courts Building across the street, and making another plaza. I don't think they need two of them.

Oh, my mistake.

The Family courts building is....interesting. I wouldn't mind seeing a more modern building in its place, but it's SO distinctive...

<gesture>

Eh.

</gesture>

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No, ricco, I like the planned plaza shown above. They are talking of demolishing the Family Courts Building across the street, and making another plaza. I don't think they need two of them.

Two plazas across from each other is over doing it.

I wouldn't mind seeing a new Federal courthouse being built there. Then raze the old one in the "theater district"and add some sort of entertainment venue in it's place.

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No, ricco, I like the planned plaza shown above. They are talking of demolishing the Family Courts Building across the street, and making another plaza.
Not the Family Courts Building! I actually enjoy its design (that is, if I'm thinking of the same building..).
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The Family Law Center not an aesthetic masterpiece, certainly. The big problem for the County, though, was cost. It was going to cost almost as much to rehab the Family Law Center as it would to replace it. The major problem is that the whole thing is built of poured concrete (interior walls included).

Per Houstonian in Iraq's observation, I think the plan is to have the new federal courthouse over by the other federal buildings near 2 Houston Center. However, the buzz on this is a bit old. I believe GSA is budgeting site and design for Houston in FY 2009. There was an old thread on this. Has anybody heard anything else on this lately?

Edited by Porchman
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Is anyone else disappointed that Civil Courthouse has no exterior lighting? The dome, at the very least, just screams to be light up at night.

I think it is a missed opportunity to enhance the night skyline, especially from Minute Maid.

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Is anyone else disappointed that Civil Courthouse has no exterior lighting? The dome, at the very least, just screams to be light up at night.

I think it is a missed opportunity to enhance the night skyline, especially from Minute Maid.

Maybe we should start a thread on this.

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  • 1 year later...

http://www.pspaec.com/

The new Jury Assembly Room and Transportation Plaza project will be the centerpiece for the recently consolidated Harris County Courts complex. Four 250-seat jury assembly rooms will feed civil, criminal, juvenile and family courts. The unique organization of the facility preserves the site as a public park. It also organizes the program inside a secure perimeter as the entry pavilion will be a security check point. Once inside, the assembly space is connected via tunnel to the courts on neighboring blocks. After hours, the space will be available to the public for approved activities. The site also plays a key role in the greater urban design strategies of downtown Houston, linking historic green squares, bus routes, bike routes and the expanding green necklace of bayou park space.

Completion: 2009

Anyone know the status of this?

gallery_723_64_23225.jpg

gallery_723_64_2861.jpg

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So they gave up on the original design with the star-shaped fountain in the center. It's an improvement over the surface parking, but I would rather the facility were on the corner than in the middle of the green space. It looks a bit lost the way it is laid out.

Just by reading the language in the blurb you can tell that reporting for jury duty there will be an unpleasant process, what with the "organized program in a secure perimeter" and all.

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So they gave up on the original design with the star-shaped fountain in the center.

Thank God!!!!

Just by reading the language in the blurb you can tell that reporting for jury duty there will be an unpleasant process, what with the "organized program in a secure perimeter" and all.

Compared to what it is today? Not even close.

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  • 7 months later...
Starting at 5a.m., one of the biggest surface lots in the area will disappear so construction can start on a new underground jury assembly room.

The new assembly room will increase security, provide more room capacity and give potential jurors underground access to the courts.

***

Construction will take 18 to 24 months.

A park will be constructed above the new jury assembly room.

Khou

Edited by UpuPUp!
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Very neat. Of course, I'm in favor of pretty much anything that isn't surface parking. And as someone who was called for jury duty in Harris County six times, I can say the current facility can use some improvement.

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Very neat. Of course, I'm in favor of pretty much anything that isn't surface parking. And as someone who was called for jury duty in Harris County six times, I can say the current facility can use some improvement.

Considering the part of town, I wonder exactly what the plaza is going to be like. Would be nice if they allow street vendors there. Would be a much better option than people going to that damned convenience store on commerce.

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So they gave up on the original design with the star-shaped fountain in the center. It's an improvement over the surface parking, but I would rather the facility were on the corner than in the middle of the green space. It looks a bit lost the way it is laid out.

Just by reading the language in the blurb you can tell that reporting for jury duty there will be an unpleasant process, what with the "organized program in a secure perimeter" and all.

As the Editor mentioned, you should have tried jury duty in the old assembly room. You report underground, just like the new assembly room, but in another building. Once you are assigned to a court, you go back upstairs and outside to go to your court. You are following the court's deputy, so you better not fall behind. Once at the courthouse, you must go through security with everyone else. Depending on the time, this can cause HUGE jams at the metal detectors as upwards of 60 potential jurors per court try to get through security.

The new assembly room is also underground. Only the lobby and staircase and elevators are in that ground level building. I am sure they will also have metal detectors in that lobby. What is so great about this setup is that previous courthouse construction installed tunnels to this block. Once a juror goes through security in the lobby, he or she is free to go to any courthouse through the tunnels without going through security again. This is great for the jurors and fantastic for the poor schmucks who get caught behind them now at the metal detectors.

There is also a tunnel to the county parking garage 2 blocks to the east. During inclement weather, a juror can leave his umbrella in the car and take the tunnel to the assembly room, then take the tunnel to court, and even take the tunnel to one of the 4 underground cafeterias in the county complex.

The jury assembly room is the hub of the courthouse complex. It is one block from all 5 courthouses, and will make jury duty easier on both the jurors and the judges, bailiffs, attorneys and court participants. Maybe now the jurors won't show up for duty as angry, and people can have a shot at a decent trial. :D

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Very neat. Of course, I'm in favor of pretty much anything that isn't surface parking. And as someone who was called for jury duty in Harris County six times, I can say the current facility can use some improvement.

I dunno, it seemed fine to me. Show up, giant amphitheater to sit in and wait, tunnel access to the other courts you get farmed out to...

Edit: The jury assembly room I reported to was on ground level.

Edited by kylejack
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Considering the part of town, I wonder exactly what the plaza is going to be like. Would be nice if they allow street vendors there. Would be a much better option than people going to that damned convenience store on commerce.

Well... considering that part of town... just dont hang out there after sundown, let me tell ya.

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Well... considering that part of town... just dont hang out there after sundown, let me tell ya.

Umm....and why WOULD anyone hang out after sundown, unless you're a cop.

The place is a ghost town at 6pm, unless it's a game day over at MMP.

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I dunno, it seemed fine to me. Show up, giant amphitheater to sit in and wait, tunnel access to the other courts you get farmed out to...

Edit: The jury assembly room I reported to was on ground level.

Hmmm...wonder which jury assembly you showed up to. The current one is in the basement of Congress Plaza Building. And, while it is technically possible to take the tunnels to the courts, it is a circuitous route that entails walking south one block before walking north to get to the courthouses, as well as many twists and turns. What is a 2 block walk on the street becomes 4 blocks underground. The new assembly room will be roughly 1/2 block block to all 4 courthouses. Additionally, moving the jury assembly will allow the building to be sold or repurposed, and will provide vastly upgraded facilities for jurors and staff. The work areas for the staff are in poor shape. And, there is still the problem of swamping the security checkpoints with jurors. This is a daily problem that can only be addressed by having another checkpoint for the jurors. There are over 40 district courts and over 20 county courts. The jury panel for a district court is often 60 people, for county courts, 24 people. It doesn't take too many of these courts asking for jury panels at the same time (say, on a Monday morning) to cause gridlock in the lobby of the courthouse.

But, I admit, a juror who only gets called to serve once every several years can handle the current setup. This is more for the staff and courts to work more efficiently, and to complete a comprehensive courthouse complex that serves 4 million residents than to save a juror 3 blocks of walking.

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I think I reported to 1019 Congress, Google Maps streetview seems to confirm. Then they put us in a big amphitheater, just to the right about 50 feet inside the doors. As jury pools were assembled for each court, groups of 30 or so would be pulled from this mass pool and taken downstairs to other staging rooms and then to courts. I never got pulled for a pool so they cut me loose.

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  • Highrise Tower changed the title to Harris County Jury Assembly Room And Transportation Plaza

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