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SCVNews.com | Venerable L.A. Hall to Serve Justice Again | 08-08-2011
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County supervisors approve $231 million renovation of downtown L.A. structure, which will be restored for use by Sheriff and District Attorney.
| Monday, Aug 8, 2011
Hall of Justice 1

Sheriff Lee Baca awaits his new headquarters.

Sheriff Lee Baca, along with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and Chief Executive Office, have long been committed to restoring the historic Hall of Justice so this culturally important building can once again serve the people of Los Angeles County.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has unanimously approved a $231 million renovation to the Hall of Justice. Once the upgrade is complete it will return to duty as the Headquarters of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s , as well as house members of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. The Hall of Justice had served as Sheriff’s Headquarters from 1925 to 1994.

In addition to its place in history and practical use as a headquarters, it is a fiscally responsible project. Most of the renovation costs will be offset by the termination of other property lease obligations of the county agencies that will move into the structure, as well as currently lowered construction costs resulting from the slow economy.

This move will place Sheriff Baca and Sheriff’s Department headquarters back in the heart of Los Angeles County and the Civic Center, within walking distance of the county Hall of Administration, federal and state courts, Los Angeles City Hall, other important governmental offices and Metro transportation. It is also nearby key cultural centers, including the Music Center, the Disney Concert Hall, LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes and El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument.

Although the Sheriff’s Department was required to vacate the building due to the damage caused in the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, plans to revive it have been under consideration for more than a decade.

Clark Construction Group and a downtown architecture firm, AC Martin Partners, plan to start work this month and are expected to be finished by late 2014. The primary renovation calls for seismic retrofitting, upgrades to the elevators, the installation of new electrical and mechanical systems and connection of utility systems such as sewage, water and gas. To restore the building’s exterior to its original appearance, workers plan to high-pressure wash the granite exterior.

In addition to the renovation of the building, a beautiful fountain will greet visitors at the public entrance, and a 1,000 space parking garage on the north side of building will be constructed.

Historical Significance

Built in 1925, L.A.'s Hall of Justice served as LASD headquarters until 1994.

The Hall of Justice stands resolute in stature and guards an illustrious past at 211 West Temple Street, Los Angeles, at the corner of Broadway and Temple Streets. Constructed in 1925, this Beaux Arts facility was built as an imposing structure meant to convey a sense of justice and public importance. The stately 14 story, 550,000 square-foot high-rise building was the nation’s first consolidated judicial facility. The Hall of Justice was designed in the classic Italianate style and was constructed with Type I non-combustible building materials including concrete floor slabs, a steel frame structure encased in concrete, and granite exterior veneer. The Hall of Justice also presented a stunning interior with an ornate, barrel-vaulted entry foyer, gold-marble walls, and large ionic columns supporting the exquisitely gilded ceiling.

When first constructed, the Hall of Justice accommodated a wide range of functions for the County of Los Angeles, including the Sheriff’s Department, Coroner, District Attorney, Public Defender, and Tax Collector. Additionally, the building housed 17 courtrooms and a county jail with over 750 cells. County staff and space needs grew significantly over time, and many departments moved out, leaving the Sheriff’s Department as its only occupant.

Behind its imposing edifice, history making events were commonplace. On one occasion, daredevil Evel Knievel was sentenced to the county jail on assault charges. The Hall also imprisoned many notorious criminals, such as Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, Charles Manson, and Sirhan Sirhan, and served as the backdrop for many movies and scores of Hollywood shows including Dragnet and Get Smart. Other historical events included the autopsies of Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe, which took place in the Hall of Justice.

The 1994 Northridge Earthquake abruptly marked a dramatic change for the Sheriff’s Department, as the Hall of Justice was forced to close its doors after 69 years of steadfast operation 24 hours a day. Yet, once the renovation is complete, this once shuttered and closed structure will transform into a symbol of advancement, while serving as a visible respect for our past, and continue to provide a tradition of service for the residents of Los Angeles County.

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