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Congressman Higgins Tours Newly Completed Buffalo Federal Courthouse

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) got a first peek at the inside of the new U.S. Courthouse in Buffalo, NY as the site readies for moving-in activities in preparation for the building’s planned public opening on November 28th.

“This is one of the single, largest federal projects completed in Western New York in recent years, supporting hundreds of construction jobs and hundreds more as the site opens,” said Congressman Higgins. “This striking structure, standing at the center of Buffalo’s business district, is symbolic of Buffalo’s rising opportunities in connection to our unique, architectural and historical past.”

In February 2007 Congressman Higgins testified before the House Budget Committee asking for inclusion of the remaining $46.7 million in funding needed for the Buffalo Courthouse in the Budget Resolution. Then, in March of that year, as a member of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, he pushed for passage of a resolution that specifically gave the General Services Administration (GSA) a green light to proceed on the $137 million project in Buffalo.

Construction on the 10-story, 261,000-square-foot federal courthouse began in 2007. The building, which sits on a 1 3/4 acre parcel at Niagara Square, will be home to the U.S. District Court, Court of Appeals, U.S. Probation, U.S. Marshals, U.S. Attorney and GSA. It is set back 50 feet from the corners of Delaware Avenue, Mohawk and Niagara Streets to meet new security standards. It will provide the District Court with five courtrooms and chambers, the Magistrate with four courtrooms and chambers, the Court of Appeals with a judge’s chamber and a library and provide preparatory space for the U.S. Attorney and Federal Public Defender.

Work at the site was completed by architect, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates; general contractor, Mascaro Construction Co.; construction manager, General Services Administration and Cannon Design; contract glazier, CBO Glass; glass fabricator and Viracon; art glass designer, Robert Mangold; art glass manufacturer, Franz Mayer; art glass insulator and assembler, Steindl Glas; sealant supplier, Dow Corning; and extrusion supplier, Keymark Corp.

The glass covered structure features a curved south wall, 690 punched window openings and triangular shaped element featuring the United States Constitution etched into glass. The building was designed with the goal of Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification under the U.S. Green Building Council standards. It recently won the 2011 Award for Design and Manufacturing Excellence from the Architectural Precast Association.

In keeping with past practice relative to the process of naming federal courthouses, Congressman Higgins plans to work with House and Senate colleagues to reach consensus on the person for whom the building will be named, after which legislation would be initially introduced in the House. Higgins believes that a compelling case can be made for the late Associate Justice of the United States, Robert H. Jackson, who was raised in Western New York and practiced law in Buffalo and Jamestown. He was a U.S. Attorney General, a distinguished member of the U.S. Supreme Court who presided over some of the most important cases of his time, and was appointed by President Truman to prosecute Nazi war criminals in the Nuremburg Trials. Many jurists, scholars and members of the bar believe that while there are many others who are similarly deserving of the honor, it is fitting that a federal courthouse be named for someone who dedicated his career to the federal judiciary.

The historic Michael J. Dillon U.S. Courthouse will house the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the U.S. Trustees, the Federal Defender and the U.S. Tax Court.