Sunday, August 23, 2009

Federal courthouse takes shape - Rockford, IL - Rockford Register Star

Am I missing something here?  $100,225,000/200,000 square feet, that is $500 a square foot.  Granted you have to furnish the building but what a number.  And remember this is Rockford not downtown New York City. 


(photo) Federal Courthouse 1

The way the cycle goes, the final amount, the $100,225,000, has been approved by Congress and includes everything,” Wehrle said. “It’s all we have to build this building. That’s the only amount of money we have, and we can’t go over it.”
Unique characteristics
Ground was broken in May 2008, and in November, the massive, 200,000-square-foot, seven-story structure will have exterior walls, windows and a roof and be completely closed off to the outdoors.
At that time, the project will be 65 percent complete and work will shift from placing steel girders, pouring concrete slabs and installing the precast facade to the final phase — an estimated one-year interior build-out.
“A significant step is taking place right now,” Wehrle said. “As soon as the steel frame and slabs are in, things become considerably evolved. Once that exterior skin is in, it will go crazy inside. Everything will go from activity outside the building to inside the building.”
Wehrle has served as project manager on about a dozen federal building projects across the Upper Great Lakes region. Each project brings its own unique characteristics, and Rockford is no exception.
“It’s always interesting to see how the different architects bring their own approach to the projects,” she said. Rockford’s architects, Koetter Kim & Associates of Boston, designed the courthouse to radiate a look and feel of openness, representing the transparency of government and justice.
The theme is then echoed in the project’s Art in Architecture commission, the planting of a two-acre urban orchard featuring blooming crab apple trees scheduled for spring 2011 on the courthouse’s front lawn.
“It’s not your typical Art in Architecture project,” Wehrle said. “It’s not just for visitors to the building. It’s a statement for the community, for everyone to see.”
Counting the days
The timing of the project – in the midst of a severe economic downturn and construction drought — has only added to its significance.
“Because of what’s happening in the construction market, the fact that this project is bringing so many jobs to the area is exciting,” Wehrle said.
At its peak, the project is expected to have as many as 400 workers on-site.
That peak is expected to happen this winter when teams of carpenters, drywall installers, painters, electricians, plumbers and other tradesmen start turning the shell of a building into courtrooms, offices, hallways and public spaces.
Tom Dal Santo, director of the 1,000-member Northern Illinois Building and Trades Association, said he and plenty of others are counting the days until the courthouse project is able to put more local laborers to work.
“There are a decent number of people down there now. What’s good about a project like this is it involves all of the trades,” Dal Santo said. “I wish we had six more going up. I still have 150 to 175 folks not seeing a paycheck.”
Staff writer Corina Curry can be reached at or 815-987-1371.

1992: First public hearing to discuss need for new U.S. courthouse
2000: New U.S. courthouse for Rockford authorized by the U.S. Judicial Conference
November 2001: Project receives $4.9 million for site acquisition and design development
November 2003: Project receives another $2 million
November 2005: Project receives $34.5 million in construction funds
December 2007: Project receives $58 million
May 2008: Construction begins
May 2009: Ironworkers complete the building’s structural frame
July 2009: Construction begins on the building’s facade
November 2009: Facade expected to be complete, focus to shift to interior build out
November 2010: Construction to be complete
Early 2011: Tenants will move into the new courthouse
Spring 2011: Art in Architecture project, a two-acre urban orchard, will be installed

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