History In The Making: Building Anew, In Pictures

Part II Of A Series About Broward County’s New Courthouse

The Opening Statement

pillars of the new Broward Court House
The entrance of the new courthouse, as it appeared during construction on January 27, 2014.

Broward County’s new courthouse, which is under construction in Fort Lauderdale, has reached its final height, with the topping out ceremony having been held in February. The new court tower is 11 floors taller than the existing court building, and it will have soaring columns through which all persons will pass into the lobby when it opens in the summer of 2015.  Perhaps it is appropriate to say Broward County is gaining its pillars of justice, as this will be the first incarnation of the three main courthouses that is so embellished. It is something to consider as we present Part II of our three-part series about the Broward County courts.

Choosing Among 1000’s Of Pictures

The process of sorting through these photographs was difficult. Of the thousands of pictures in our photo library, 260 were finally chosen as “finalists” for inclusion in this series of slideshows, not including those from the official county record. The pictures span a period of nearly four years. Of those, only a fraction were actually chosen to represent the various stages of construction, up to the beginning of March 2014.

Of course, the new courthouse will not open until 2015. When that happens, the existing low-rise tower will be demolished to make way for a new 500-vehicle parking garage. At that time, both of Broward County’s old main courthouses will be relegated to pure history and the photographic records that are maintained of them.

Getting Started: The Existing Court Building And The Old Court Square

The pictures in the first slideshow present the Broward County Judicial Complex as it appeared in 2010, while a task force was still considering whether to renovate and upgrade the existing facility or start with a new structure.

  • Courthouse EntranceThe entrance to the existing Broward County Courthouse, on SE 6th Street, facing east and north.
  • Courthouse EntranceTurning the other direction, the entrance of the existing Broward County Courthouse, on SE 6th Street, facing west and north.
  • The Courthouse CourtyardThe courtyard of the courthouse, which included the bell tower, which can just be seen at the left of the picture.
  • The Bell TowerThe bell tower, which was demolished along with the courtyard to make way for the new courthouse tower.
  • A close shot of the "liberty bell" in the bell tower, with the 110 Tower as a backdrop. The existing courthouse can be seen peeking into the left side of the picture.
  • The Two TowersA picture of the existing Broward County Courthouse and the 110 Tower, directly across the street. The courthouse is dwarfed by the companion building, which is not the case with the new tower.
Courthouse Entrance1 Courthouse Entrance2 The Courthouse Courtyard3 The Bell Tower4 5 The Two Towers6

Two and a half years later, in the autumn of 2012, the courtyard and the bell tower were demolished to make way for the foundation of the new court tower, as seen in these photos from the official Broward County website1.

Broward Courthouse bell tower demolition

From a distance, in the autumn of 2012, there is hardly an indication anything is happening near the courthouse, but the skyline of Fort Lauderdale was on the verge of changing. The photograph below was taken the morning of October 10, 2012 from a hotel on Fort Lauderdale beach.

Fort Lauderdale from Beach Place

Old V. New: The Case Of The New Court Tower

People visiting the courthouse in March 2013 witnessed construction underway in earnest, with the areas around the courthouse marked by barricades, fencing and, of course, the first pylons of the new tower being erected.

  • Fort Lauderdale SkylineThe skyline of the city includes cranes of two separate highrise projects, one of which is the new courthouse.
  • The BarricadesRoadway barricades are erected in front of the courthouse to squeeze traffic from the far-right lane on SE 6th Avenue.
  • Directing TrafficThe barricades, as seen from inside the barricade line, show where traffic has been temporarily blocked for construction.
  • No Trespassing!The new courthouse construction site is cordoned off and fenced, with warnings that trespassers will be charged with a felony.
  • The Construction Trailers and SiteThe staging area, offices and safety training trailers are visible in this image, looking west toward the new construction site.
  • The First Floors ErectedThe ground level and supports for the second floor are erected as the new tower begins to rise.
Fort Lauderdale Skyline1 The Barricades2 Directing Traffic3 No Trespassing!4 The Construction Trailers and Site5 The First Floors Erected6

The skyline of Fort Lauderdale was about to change immensely, with multiple construction projects underway or about to begin. The courthouse tower project is only visible from the central beach area because of the crane lurking between the the New River Plaza condominium and the pale green of the Riverside Hotel, as seen in this photograph from April 27, 2013.

courthouse construction as seen from the central beaches of Fort Lauderdale

By August of 2013, nine floors of the new courthouse tower were completed, and the tower was as tall as nearby low-rise buildings, including the old court building, itself.

  • Nine Up, 12 To GoLess than six months after the first floors were started, the framework of the first nine floors is complete, with construction started on the 10th.
  • Jailhouse Rivalry?The Broward County Main Jail is rivaled in height by the emerging courthouse tower.
  • Nine Concealing The 110Only the top of the 110 Tower is visible from the base of the Andrews Avenue bridge over the New River.
  • Emerging JusticeThe new courthouse tower, as seen from the southwest corner of Andrews Avenue and 6th Street, on August 16, 2013.
  • Walk The Plank!Perhaps this is not as forboding as a shipboard plank, but a fall would be equally deadly. Observe the crane in the left of the picture.
  • Air-conditioned CraneClimate control is available at 100 feet for the construction worker in this control box.
  • New Parking GarageThe first phase of the new courthouse parking garage on Andrews Avenue stares down the glass façade of the office building in which our law offices are located.
  • Old v NewThe entrance and tower of the new courthouse are beginning to overwhelm the size and height of the old court building.
  • Hanging Out To DryA construction worker's undershirt is seen dangling on a barrier wire of one of the new floors of the emerging court building.
  • Construction NecessitiesEquipment used to prepare materials that are used on the construction of the new court tower.
  • Waiting For A RideThe ground-level platform of the construction elevator that lifts workers to the various floors of the new tower.
  • Going UpThe new tower and the construction elevator that carries workers to the upper floors.
  • This Way, PleaseSigns direct pedestrians to the crosswalk for the old court tower.
  • The New Judicial ComplexAnother angle showing the old courthouse, in the foreground, and the new court tower, which is already as high as the aged building.
Nine Up, 12 To Go1 Jailhouse Rivalry?2 Nine Concealing The 1103 Emerging Justice4 Walk The Plank!5 Air-conditioned Crane6 New Parking Garage7 Old v New8 Hanging Out To Dry9 Construction Necessities10 Waiting For A Ride11 Going Up12 This Way, Please13 The New Judicial Complex14

Only one month later, three more levels of the rising court tower were completed, and the building was already more than half its planned height of 21 floors. The following pictures are from September 19, 2013.

  • Taller Than Its PredecessorThe new courthouse tower is now taller than the old, but it is only slightly more than halfway completed, in terms of its final height.
  • Room With A ViewA sample of one of the new courthouse windows, which will be attached to the entrance section of the new tower, sits in the construction staging area.
  • New River ViewThe new court tower now peeks over the top of the Broward County main jail, as seen in this image from SE 3rd Avenue at the New River.
  • Emerging FrameworkZooming in, the new courthouse tower becomes visible in greater detail behind the Broward County main jail.
  • Watch Your StepA construction worker carefully navigates the cluttered site of the courthouse tower project.
  • Guiding The BucketA worker on the ground guides his colleagues in a high-reach bucket as the new exterior panels are added to the courthouse along SE 1st Avenue.
Taller Than Its Predecessor1 Room With A View2 New River View3 Emerging Framework4 Watch Your Step5 Guiding The Bucket6

One year after taking a snapshot of the downtown skyline from the beach, the new court tower is seen here from an adjacent hotel. The tower is not plainly visible in the downtown landscape. This image was taken October 23, 2013, and the old courthouse can be seen just to the front of the new building. It is already completely dwarfed by its replacement.

emerging Broward County courthouse

Only two weeks before Thanksgiving 2013, the new courthouse tower has become an imposing sight, assuming a more dominating role of the judicial complex, even though it will be another 20 months before its planned opening.

  • Towering Over The JailThe new courthouse now prominently rises over the 13-story Broward County main jail in this image taken November 4, 2013.
  • Elevator Up!Workers are visible in the construction elevator that rises past the new exterior walls enclosing the superstructure.
  • Enclosing The FrameworkThe entrance and lobby area will soon be attached to the new colonnade, and the lower floors are nearly fully enclosed.
  • No Shadows, No PuppetsA construction worker emotes while his counterparts observe his gestures in an animated conversation.
  • High Wire ActPower and communications lines compose part of the view of the top of the growing courthouse tower.
  • Sky Crane And The Two TowersThe view of a construction crane flying between the new courthouse and the 110 Tower makes for a dramatic sight.
  • Not Exactly BattlementsFrom left to right: The Riverhouse condominium; the new Broward County courthouse; the 110 Tower. This view is from atop the Publix parking garage on Andrews Avenue.
Towering Over The Jail1 Elevator Up!2 Enclosing The Framework3 No Shadows, No Puppets4 High Wire Act5 Sky Crane And The Two Towers6 Not Exactly Battlements7

Night Vision And Topping Off In 2014

By the start of 2014, the new court tower was within a few floors of reaching its final height. Perhaps the most dramatic images taken, yet, of the new tower, were these sunset and night shots of the new court tower, taken in late January and mid February, respectively.

  • Sunset SkylineThe Fort Lauderdale skyline is dramatically silhouetted against the backdrop of a sunset on January 22, 2014. The new court tower's two cranes can be seen left of center.
  • Evening ConstructionA zoomed shot of the downtown skyline reveals, in the left side of the picture, the night lighting of the courthouse construction project.
  • Lux ParadisoA night view of the new courthouse tower, as seen from directly in front of the Cinema Paradiso, just one block away on SE 6th Street.
  • Not Quite VegasIt may not be The Strip, but the night construction lights distinguish the new courthouse tower from its neighbors.
  • The Difference Between Night and LightThe current Broward County courthouse is dark, while its replacement is brightly lit for evening construction work.
  • Neon v Flourescent IThe 110 Tower, capped with iridescent neon, juxtaposed with the white flourescent glow of the new Broward County courthouse.
  • Neon v Flourescent IIA portrait image of the night illumination of the 110 Tower and its new neighbor.
Sunset Skyline1 Evening Construction2 Lux Paradiso3 Not Quite Vegas4 The Difference Between Night and Light5 Neon v Flourescent I6 Neon v Flourescent II7

Near the end of February 2014, nearly a year after the first floors emerged from the dirt of the new courthouse construction site, the “topping out” ceremony was held. The event, marked by placing an evergreen on the top floor of a new building, symbolized the final construction of the top floor of occupied portion of the new courthouse. The 21st floor, which was constructed in the following weeks, will not be open to the public or court staff. Instead, it will house mechanical and electrical equipment.

The following and final series of pictures shows the “tree topper”, which is a palm tree in Florida, followed by a series of pictures taken at the start of March 2014, as more of the exterior walls and windows were added.

  • Tree TopperFebruary 14, 2014: The Topping Out of the last floor that will be used by humans. Machines will occupy the 21st floor.
  • Florida EvergreenTraditionally, some type of evergreen is used to symbolize the topping out. In Florida, that means a palm tree.
  • Dramatic ChangesThe day of the topping out, the stark contrast of more than a half century of architectural evolution is awesomely displayed.
  • Pillars Of JusticeAt least, this is the frame of the new pillars of justice. A colonnade will greet visitors to the new court entrance and lobby.
  • A Tower Gets Its FaçadeThe exterior of the new court tower rises to greet the top of the structure.
  • Sixth Street ReinventedThe long sweep of new and old court buildings defines a two city blocks between 1st Avenue and 3rd Avenue on SE 6th Street.
  • The Tour Just ChangedConsidering who has been on trial in Broward County, local tour guides may consider adding anecdotes about the courthouse. This shot was taken on the Ides of March.
  • Peek-A-BooMarch 15, 2014: Drivers moving south on the Avenue of the Arts will find the new court tower almost hides the 110 Tower.
  • A Skyline RemadeThe Fort Lauderdale skyline as seen from Davie Boulevard and I-95 on March 15, 2014.
  • Historic Landmark and Historic ChangeOne of Fort Lauderdale's historic buildings is contrasted against the backdrop of the new courthouse and the 110 Tower.
  • Surrounded Or Just Convenient?The office building where Bogenschutz, Dutko & Kroll, P.A. is located is now flanked by the new courthouse parking garage and, across 6th Avenue, the new courthouse, itself.
  • Employees OnlyThe northwest entrance of the new courthouse parking garage. The facility opens in May and will be available to courthouse staff only.
Tree Topper1 Florida Evergreen2 Dramatic Changes3 Pillars Of Justice4 A Tower Gets Its Façade5 Sixth Street Reinvented6 The Tour Just Changed7 Peek-A-Boo8 A Skyline Remade9 Historic Landmark and Historic Change10 Surrounded Or Just Convenient?11 Employees Only12

Broward Commissioners Don Hard Hats For First Tour

Broward County Commissioners, including Mayor Barbara Sharief, took part in a tour of the new courthouse tower on February 21. Commissioners had a chance to see the progress of the construction, although installation of the interior prefabricated stairwells was not yet complete. A pictorial record of the event can be viewed or downloaded as a PDF from the official county website. The record includes impressive interior shots we have not been permitted to take, as well as some exclusive “first look” aerial views of the downtown area and the east-facing view of the ocean from the upper floors of the new tower.

We close this pictorial review with the photographic comparison below, a look at the change in the south portion of the downtown skyline from April 2013 to March 2014.

Fort Lauderdale skyline changes

In Part III, we will review the history of the partners of Bogenschutz, Dutko & Kroll, P.A. and some of the high-profile cases in which we have been privileged to participate in the current courthouse. Part III will be released April 7.

1: https://broward.org/NewCourthouse/ProjectTimeline/Pages/Fall2012.aspx