Building History

The new glass-and-steel federal courthouse shatters the image that government structures have to be stodgy

Ove Arup had recommended putting automated dampers on the openings. But Meier's team nixed the dampers -- which cost between $120,000 and $200,000 -- for aesthetic reasons, says Bein.

GSA officials say they'll have to retrofit the openings with operable panels. Keith Lew of the agency doesn't know whether the panels will be added before the next summer dust storm arrives.

Tests of the cooling system on 90- and 100-degree days in September and October proved that it worked, and worked well.

"But I know there's going to be that one day," Raman muses, "when some piece of grit goes past the filter and gets stuck in a nozzle, and a glob of water flies down and lands on a judge's head.

"It's bound to happen. And when it does, I suspect, all hell will break loose."

See more pictures of the courthouse soon

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