The Opening Statement
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.
- The entrance to the existing Broward County Courthouse, on SE 6th Street, facing east and north.
- Turning the other direction, the entrance of the existing Broward County Courthouse, on SE 6th Street, facing west and north.
- The courtyard of the courthouse, which included the bell tower, which can just be seen at the left of the picture.
- The 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.
- A 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.
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.
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.
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.
- The skyline of the city includes cranes of two separate highrise projects, one of which is the new courthouse.
- Roadway barricades are erected in front of the courthouse to squeeze traffic from the far-right lane on SE 6th Avenue.
- The barricades, as seen from inside the barricade line, show where traffic has been temporarily blocked for construction.
- The new courthouse construction site is cordoned off and fenced, with warnings that trespassers will be charged with a felony.
- The staging area, offices and safety training trailers are visible in this image, looking west toward the new construction site.
- The ground level and supports for the second floor are erected as the new tower begins to rise.
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.
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.
- Less than six months after the first floors were started, the framework of the first nine floors is complete, with construction started on the 10th.
- The Broward County Main Jail is rivaled in height by the emerging courthouse tower.
- Only the top of the 110 Tower is visible from the base of the Andrews Avenue bridge over the New River.
- The new courthouse tower, as seen from the southwest corner of Andrews Avenue and 6th Street, on August 16, 2013.
- 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.
- Climate control is available at 100 feet for the construction worker in this control box.
- The 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.
- The entrance and tower of the new courthouse are beginning to overwhelm the size and height of the old court building.
- A construction worker's undershirt is seen dangling on a barrier wire of one of the new floors of the emerging court building.
- Equipment used to prepare materials that are used on the construction of the new court tower.
- The ground-level platform of the construction elevator that lifts workers to the various floors of the new tower.
- The new tower and the construction elevator that carries workers to the upper floors.
- Signs direct pedestrians to the crosswalk for the old court tower.
- Another angle showing the old courthouse, in the foreground, and the new court tower, which is already as high as the aged building.
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.
- The new courthouse tower is now taller than the old, but it is only slightly more than halfway completed, in terms of its final height.
- A 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.
- The 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.
- Zooming in, the new courthouse tower becomes visible in greater detail behind the Broward County main jail.
- A construction worker carefully navigates the cluttered site of the courthouse tower project.
- A 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.
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.
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.
- The new courthouse now prominently rises over the 13-story Broward County main jail in this image taken November 4, 2013.
- Workers are visible in the construction elevator that rises past the new exterior walls enclosing the superstructure.
- The entrance and lobby area will soon be attached to the new colonnade, and the lower floors are nearly fully enclosed.
- A construction worker emotes while his counterparts observe his gestures in an animated conversation.
- Power and communications lines compose part of the view of the top of the growing courthouse tower.
- The view of a construction crane flying between the new courthouse and the 110 Tower makes for a dramatic sight.
- From 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.
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.
- The 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.
- A zoomed shot of the downtown skyline reveals, in the left side of the picture, the night lighting of the courthouse construction project.
- A 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.
- It may not be The Strip, but the night construction lights distinguish the new courthouse tower from its neighbors.
- The current Broward County courthouse is dark, while its replacement is brightly lit for evening construction work.
- The 110 Tower, capped with iridescent neon, juxtaposed with the white flourescent glow of the new Broward County courthouse.
- A portrait image of the night illumination of the 110 Tower and its new neighbor.
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.
- February 14, 2014: The Topping Out of the last floor that will be used by humans. Machines will occupy the 21st floor.
- Traditionally, some type of evergreen is used to symbolize the topping out. In Florida, that means a palm tree.
- The day of the topping out, the stark contrast of more than a half century of architectural evolution is awesomely displayed.
- At least, this is the frame of the new pillars of justice. A colonnade will greet visitors to the new court entrance and lobby.
- The exterior of the new court tower rises to greet the top of the structure.
- The long sweep of new and old court buildings defines a two city blocks between 1st Avenue and 3rd Avenue on SE 6th Street.
- Considering 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.
- March 15, 2014: Drivers moving south on the Avenue of the Arts will find the new court tower almost hides the 110 Tower.
- The Fort Lauderdale skyline as seen from Davie Boulevard and I-95 on March 15, 2014.
- One of Fort Lauderdale's historic buildings is contrasted against the backdrop of the new courthouse and the 110 Tower.
- 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.
- The northwest entrance of the new courthouse parking garage. The facility opens in May and will be available to courthouse staff only.
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.
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.