One of the most magnificent civic structures in all of LA is close to reopening after being shut down for two decades since the 1994 Northridge earthquake left the building red tagged due to severe damage. Fortunately, the 1925 Hall of Justice designed in the Beaux Arts style was not demolished. Instead, the county-owned structure located in LA’s civic center — once the headquarters for the sheriff, district attorney, and coroner — was saved after almost a decade of fundraising efforts spearheaded by former Sheriff Lee Baca that started in 2004.
Work on the building began in early 2012 and included extensive seismic retrofitting (new shear walls and drag beams) and infrastructure modernization throughout the 14-story historic structure including all brand new mechanical, electrical, and plumbing as well as the introduction of central AC. The once-grimy exterior of the building was also completely cleaned and restored. In addition to the general contractor Clark Construction, several specialty contractors were brought in for their expertise in various areas due to the historic nature of the project including: Spectra Company, Carnevale & Lohr, and Evergreene Architectural Arts. All told, the $234 million project is finally wrapping up and will reopen in early 2015, once again, as the headquarters for the Los Angeles County Sheriff and District Attorney’s office.
The grand stately architecture isn’t the only interesting part about the building. It also has had a noirish history of (in)famous figures who have ended up behind those thick concrete walls. The infamous Charles Manson was once held behind bars here. And those same jail cells have been painstakingly restored and relocated to another section of the Hall of Justice that will become part of a new visitor center. Who else ended up here? Both Marilyn Monroe and Robert F. Kennedy had their autopsies conducted here in 1962 and 1968 respectively.
And that infamous jail cell…