Harris County Criminal Justice Center Restoration, Mitigation + Improvements
Originally designed by PGAL in 2001, the county’s Criminal Justice Center (CJC) needed significant improvements, restoration, and mitigation in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
The project renews the Courthouse for the next 20+ years of public service by incorporating the latest technology/security enhancements, updating/modernizing finishes, increasing capacity for public access, and enhancing building security.
The design team reorganized and expanded the exterior entry plaza and drop-off area to facilitate vehicular and pedestrian access. Expansion of the building’s first floor increased the lobby footprint to improve visitor and staff access more than double security screening, and queuing capacity while also creating an inviting and spacious entry. The information desk was relocated to enhance visibility and access, and a new dining area and coffee shop were added to provide better public access and enhance staff amenities.
Other strategic programmatic changes include relocating the District Clerk’s Collection office to the first floor and expanding the District Attorney’s Victim Assistance office for improved public access to these essential court support functions.
Five high-rise traction elevators increase the overall vertical transportation capacity throughout the 20-story building. The new elevator system includes a bank of three elevators (basement to 20th floor) on the front facing southeast corner in an all-glass enclosure, to represent the ideals of a transparent justice system. A second bank of two new elevators (1st to 20th floor) on the northwest corner of the high-rise tower is intended primarily for staff access between floors. This scope included relocating various court services departments to accommodate the core additions.
Implementation of deferred maintenance items, including new finishes on courtroom floors, new carpet and paint in all court and court services offices, resealing exterior envelope openings and exterior envelop repairs, and a new roof. The project also includes expanded and updated flood protection measures for the building, designed to protect the facility to three feet above the 500-year flood plain elevation.
A phased design and construction schedule allowed access to all County services and departments throughout the four-year construction process. PGAL designed and documented both the restoration and mitigation scope of work to meet FEMA approval and funding requirements.
- The addition of five high-rise traction elevators
- First-floor lobby security queuing expansion and building access improvements
- Updated mitigation flood barriers throughout the site