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Rafael Viñoly-designed courthouse will remake Jersey City’s Journal Square

Bringing Up The House

Rafael Viñoly-designed courthouse will remake Jersey City’s Journal Square

Renderings of the new Hudson County courthouse in Jersey City have been revealed, showing a truss stacked on bands of glass for the new Frank J. Guarini Justice Complex, set to be completed in 2023 at 595 Newark Street.

With construction currently estimated at $345 million, the project is “one of the largest-ever publically-funded projects in New Jersey,” according to New York Yimby.

Designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects, who completed the Bronx County Hall of Justice in 2006, the building is the picture of structural expressionism with extra-large concrete columns and glazing set behind metal cross bracing. The building resembles a two-story box truss stretched over an open atrium.

The 400,000-square-foot project includes 24 courtrooms, hearing and mediation rooms, jury assembly spaces, offices, a 75-seat food court, a self-help law library, and a new facility for the sheriff’s department. A 459-space parking garage, wrapped in a metal facade, turns the corner onto Central Avenue.

The Hudson County Courthouse (HCC) website states that “the courthouse was designed to facilitate use by the public and to ensure the security of all visitors,” positioning the public amenities and high-traffic courtrooms on the ground level and the Criminal Court and Family Court on the second and third levels, respectively. The top two floors of the building will house the administrative offices.

Land clearance for the 5-story, LEED Silver building began in 2018 but will continue with the 1953 Hudson County Administration building.

The Hudson County Improvement Authority (HCIA) will demolish the existing building on the site, which was deemed in need of complete renovation to reach modern acceptability in a 1993 study, according to an article on nj.com. Described by Assignment Judge Peter Bariso Jr. on the HCC website as “essentially kept alive with Band-Aids,” the administration building would require a substantial financial investment to fix its security, electrical, and asbestos issues.

The Frank J. Guarini Justice Complex will require road reconfigurations, eliminating Cook Street and reconnecting Central Avenue between Hoboken and Newark Avenues to improve traffic flow to and around the project. Oakland Avenue will be widened from a one-way to a two-way street. The Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders awarded a $2.6 million road construction contract to Garfield-based Zuccaro Incorporated in February, as reported by Jersey Digs.

The 2020-2021 phase of the project will also include a partial renovation of the neighboring historic William J. Brennan Courthouse, which will continue to hold court throughout the construction.

The HCIA issued a statement in November 2019, stating that the project’s amenities are consistent with Jersey City’s 2060 Redevelopment Plan to improve the neighborhood. These plans include a 3-acre public park in Journal Square but are not scheduled until 2024.

The project’s groundbreaking is set for the summer of 2020.