Bronx, NY - 775,000-Square-Foot Court House Building is Sinking
Bronx, NY - The Bronx may not be burning. But it’s shattering and sinking.
Two years after a gleaming, $421 million state court building opened on East 161st Street, glass walls have been boarded up with wooden planks, courtroom doors are broken, stairways are cordoned off with yellow police tape, and sewer flies are infesting the lower levels of the 11-story edifice.
“We’re waiting for the whole building to fall apart,” fumed a court stenographer.
The 775,000-square-foot Bronx Hall of Justice opened in 2008, trumpeted as an architectural marvel in the middle of one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. Designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects, the sleek glass building was intended to help the South Bronx shed its “Fort Apache” reputation and symbolize a transparent judicial process.
But it has been a hall of horrors for the lawyers and court officers who work there every day.
On a recent visit to the courthouse, the sixth-floor ceiling was leaking and four large panels of glass walls on the second floor were boarded up.
Stairs between the second and third floors, as well as the front revolving door, were taped off.
On the lower courtroom floors, officials complained of spotty cellphone service, broken air conditioning and a malfunctioning audio system.
“Sewage-related problems” were reported to authorities last week.
The rock garden and courtyard remain off limits because of security concerns.
And the 240-space, below-ground parking garage remains cordoned off after inspectors found the ceiling was sinking. The Dormitory Authority plans to give up ownership of the garage this summer.
“We are aware of issues with some doors, windows, a stairwell and audio in the building,” said Susan Barnett, a spokeswoman for the state Dormitory Authority, the project manager. “All these matters are under litigation, so we cannot comment on them.”
The building boondoggle has become a legal quagmire, with a tangle of lawsuits involving 37 parties—including contractors, subcontractors, testing companies, architects, construction managers, the city and the project manager.
The Hall of Justice was slated to open in 2005 but was completed two years late and $121 million over budget.
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