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Groundbreaking marks start of construction on new courthouse


By Alison Kohler

DES MOINES, Iowa – Dignitaries gathered Aug. 28 to break ground on a construction project for a new U.S. District Courthouse to meet the federal Judiciary’s current and long-term housing needs for the Southern District of Iowa. The U.S. General Services Administration is overseeing the $136.6 million project, slated for completion in the fall of 2022. 

Dignitaries who attended the groundbreaking included:

  • Chief Judge John A. Jarvey, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa
  • Chief of Facilities and Security Office Melanie F. Gilbert, Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts
  • Acting Public Buildings Service Deputy Commissioner Allison Azevedo, GSA
  • President Jeff Smith, Ryan Companies
  • President, Chairman and CEO Daniel J. Houston, Principal Financial Group
  • District Director Kaity Patchett, Office of U.S. Rep. Cynthia Axne
  • Des Moines City Councilmembers Chris Coleman and Josh Mandelbaum

“The entire District Court for the Southern District of Iowa is excited about breaking ground on a building that will be devoted to only one thing for the next 75 plus years, and that is the pursuit of justice,” said Chief Judge John Jarvey. “As we break ground on this amazing building, we remember that it is created for us to serve others. And that is what we will do. Every day.” 

“This courthouse will meet the space and security requirements of the Judiciary and save more than $18 million in leasing costs in the first 10 years of occupancy, as several tenants will be relocated from the leased location to a federally-owned facility,” said GSA PBS Acting Deputy Commissioner Allison Azevedo.  

The new courthouse will provide nine courtrooms, offices, and workspace for:

  • The Southern District of Iowa Judiciary
  • Southern District of Iowa Bankruptcy
  • U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services
  • U.S. Marshals Service
  • Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, including a satellite library
  • GSA building management space
  • Trial preparation space for the Federal Public Defenders and the U.S. Attorneys

The new courthouse design will complement the adjacent Beaux-Arts buildings and encourage pedestrian interaction from the Principal Riverwalk. The project will incorporate the latest requirements for sustainability, operational excellence, and state-of-the-art security and communication technology.
Ryan Companies US, Inc. of Minneapolis, Minnesota, leads construction on the project. Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects is the lead designer, and Neumann Monson Architects serves as architect of record.