The six-year renovation of the Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse at 40 Foley Square is nearing completion at a time when space is needed to accommodate a record number of federal judges in lower Manhattan.
Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit will hear its first oral arguments in the courthouse since the judges moved to temporary quarters across the street at the Daniel Patrick Moynihan U.S. Courthouse at 500 Pearl St. in December 2006, and the first of several Southern District judges will join their circuit colleagues in a building that has been completely rewired, relit and resecured.
Lobby of the Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse, 40 Foley Square. See more photos.
The Neoclassical structure, designed by Cass Gilbert, was completed in 1935 and dedicated on Jan. 21, 1936. With nearly 1 million square-feet of space, it sits 38 stories high with a six-story base and three interior courtyards.
The renovations originally were budgeted by the General Services Administration for $229 million and ended up costing the GSA $317 million. That figure does not include add-ons that may come in the future from court budgets or from other agencies, such as the U.S. Marshals Service. The original cost for building the courthouse was $50 million.
The project was due to be completed two years ago this month, but court officials long ago acknowledged the job would take longer than anticipated.
Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs will preside on today on one of two panels to hear arguments in the circuit's 15th and 17th floor courtrooms. Jacobs is now in the final year of his seven-year term as chief, with most of that time spent at 500 Pearl St.
"I'm windedthis is a huge project," Jacobs said with a smile. "I'm an architecture freak and New York's history is a passion, so for me it was a wonderful opportunity to be involved in the restoration of a New York landmark. This building was built by hand in the Depression and there is nothing prefabricated, nothing cookie cutter and that has added a lot of suffering to the whole process."
The historic courthouse is where federal prosecutors secured the convictions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were executed for spying for the Russians; and four of the men charged in the Osama bin Laden conspiracy that included the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people and injured thousands.
By the late 1990s, problems with the infrastructure had to be addressedbad wiring, broken pipes and flooding, and an ancient heating system required a top-to-bottom fix, offering the opportunity to restore an architectural gem that was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.