DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Some Des Moines officials expressed disappointment in the initial design for the new federal courthouse downtown, but the agency overseeing the project promised to address the alleged shortcomings.
The reaction comes after a private meeting last month between city leaders and the General Services Administration, which is guiding the $137 million riverfront project. City communications director Jen Schulte told The Des Moines Register that city leaders had asked that the courthouse be designed to interact with the 1.2-mile (2 kilometer) Principal Riverwalk and make the area inviting to pedestrians. Schulte those aspects either weren’t incorporated or were included with the caveat they might be engineered later in line with the project’s budget.
The courthouse’s preliminary design has not been shared with the public, and the city was not allowed to keep a copy.
Some design features were praised, including a private garden and large stairs leading to the courthouse from the riverwalk.
“But they were things they might have to take away due to cost,” Schulte said.
“We are disappointed this long-awaited and significant investment in our community is not living up to its potential to contribute to the urban quality and vitality that we expected in our downtown,” said a letter from the city to the GSA following the meeting.
GSA has since said in response that it agreed that designing the courthouse to complement the riverwalk is a top project priority. The agency pledged to make several design changes, including providing access to the riverwalk and public green spaces and investigating ways to use public art.
The GSA is committed to work with the city and “plans to fully address the city’s interests in line with the other requirements associated with this project,” agency spokeswoman Alison Kohler told the newspaper.
A preliminary design is expected to be publicly released in June. Construction is scheduled to start this fall, with move-in sometime in 2022.
Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com
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