Wednesday, May 09, 2007

New PA Judicial Center Under Construction

As I drive into the City of Harrisburg lately, I observe two huge cranes that tower over the excavated site of the new Pennsylvania Judicial Center, which is under construction in the Capitol Complex one block east & north of the State Capitol building. Once completed, the PJC will serve as the administrative center for Pennsylvania's Unified Judicial System.

The website of the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts describes the new Center, as follows:

It will contain office space for more than 500 employees, three Commonwealth Court courtrooms and a conference and training center.

Occupants of the judicial center will include the Supreme Court Middle District prothonotary, executive administrator of the Supreme Court, Superior Court Middle District prothonotary, the Commonwealth Court, the AOPC and various Supreme Court boards and committees. The Judicial Conduct Board and the Court of Judicial Discipline will also have offices in the center.

Construction is projected to start in 2006 and take approximately two years. The center was designed by the Philadelphia architectural and engineering firmVitetta.
The planned construction of the PJC was announced in September, 2004, in a Press Release entitled "Governor Rendell, Chief Justice Cappy Announce Construction Plans for New Judicial Center":
Governor Edward G. Rendell and Chief Justice Ralph Cappy of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court today unveiled drawings for the design and construction of Pennsylvania’s first-ever Judicial Center. The new facility will house the Pennsylvania Supreme, Superior and Commonwealth courts.

“The new Judicial Center will ensure that for the first time, the courts of Pennsylvania have one home that is befitting of the vital and important role they play,” said Governor Rendell.

“By locating the facility in the Capitol Complex, the courts will have a prominent and proper place to conduct their business side-by-side with the legislative and executive branches.”

The new facility, to be located at Commonwealth and North streets between the Finance and Health and Welfare buildings in Harrisburg, will be about 330,000 square feet and stand nine stories high. Project design is scheduled for completion in August 2005, and construction is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2008. To accommodate the loss of parking spaces and new employees working downtown, 1,700 parking spaces will be built for the center. * * *

“After a careful evaluation of the cost and the Commonwealth’s budget, we are confident the project will be completed on-time and on-budget,” said General Services Secretary Donald T. Cunningham Jr. “By working in cooperation with the courts, we will construct a first-class, cost-effective facility that stays within the appropriation authorized by the General Assembly several years ago.” * * *

The General Assembly has allocated $98.4 million for construction of the facility.
For other details about the original expectations for the PJC, see the article "Plan unveiled to put top courts' offices under same roof", dated September 17, 2004, by Charles Thompson, published in the Patriot-News (Harrisburg, PA), and reposted on the website of the Pennsylvania Department of General Services (the owner of the new Center), here (PDF, 2 pages).

I can report that the foundation & the underground garage portions are underway with a steel structure now being assembled. There is much activity on the site daily. Whether that will lead to the planned opening in the first quarter of 2008, I don't know. But those involved in the construction should.

The website of one subcontractor, JBC Associates, Inc., under the Construction Manager, proudly describes the Pennsylvania Judicial Center project.

As to the "on-time" and "on-budget" pledges in the Press Release, well, that subcontractor presently notes an estimated completion date of 2009, and an estimated cost of $107 Million.

In any case, it will be wonderful for the circuit-riding judges of some Pennsylvania appellate courts and their staffs to move into a new home in Harrisburg . . . sometime soon.

Update: 05/09/07 @ 4:30 pm:

I received an email message from Mark Purcell, who knows much about the PJC. He kindly corrected my original posting's misstatement that JBC Associates, Inc. is the construction manager. The CM is Heery International, Inc. That CM did not post estimates as to completion or cost; JBC did.

The text now appearing above is correct & consistent with Mark's remarks:

I read with interest the PA Elder, Estate & Fiduciary Law Blog regarding the new Pennsylvania Judicial Center.

My company, Heery International, Inc., is the Construction Manager for the project (not JBC). JBC Associates is our sub-consultant assisting with scheduling of the multi-prime contracts.

If you ever have any questions or need information on the project, feel free to contact me. We’re excited to be a part of this important project with the Department of General Services. Regards.

--Mark Purcell, AIA CCM, Senior Associate
, Heery International, Inc.
Update: 10/31/08:

The Pennsylvania Judicial Center remains under construction, with the walls nearly closed, and likely will open in summer 2009 (not in the first quarter of 2008, as originally hoped).

For an update, see: PA EE&F Law Blog posting "PA Judicial Center Under Construction" (10/31/08).

Update: 07/10/09:

The Pennsylvania Judicial Center is open for occupancy. See: PA EE&F Law Blog post "
New PA Judicial Center Open for Occupancy" (07/10/09).