Modern feature complements historic courthouse rehab

January 26, 2011 |
Drew Ballensky

The renovation of the DC Appeals Courthouse [ is an impressive example of how a modern component can blend with a faithful renovation of an historic structure. Originally designed in 1820 by George Hadfield to be DC’s City Hall, the courthouse is one of the oldest public buildings in the District of Columbia. Located in historic Judiciary Square between the White House and the US Capital, the Neo-Classical structure had been vacant for 10 years. Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners completed the renovation in 2009.

The rehab project includes a new plaza and entrance pavilion on the north side to reorient the building to Judiciary Square. The steel and glass pavilion spans the center bay of the north façade, rising two stories while leaving third-story windows unobstructed. The appropriately scaled feature is transparent, allowing full view of the building and of the adjoining square.

Transforming the nearly 200-year-old structure into a modern courthouse required updates of numerous systems and expanded space while preserving the integrity of the original design. The biggest engineering challenge was excavation of a new ceremonial courtroom beneath the grand south-side portico.

The project has won numerous accolades including a Preservation Citation in the General Services Administration’s 2010 Design Awards.

Drew Ballensky | Reconstruction Blog

Drew Ballensky is general manager of Duro-Last Roofing, Inc.’s central U.S. facility in Iowa and company spokesman for Duro-Last’s cool roofing, sustainability and architectural education programs. He is past-president of the Chemical Fabrics and Film Association and chairman of CFFA’s Vinyl Roofing Division. Drew earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial technology from the University of Northern Iowa and master’s degree in business administration from Florida State University.
Drew has over 29 years experience in business and industry in various engineering and managerial capacities. He has worked in the U.S. and Canadian operations for a major international manufacturer of pre-engineered steel buildings, was a financial analyst with a major athletic apparel manufacturer and was an owner of a general contracting company.

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