Ralph Carr Judicial Complex Project Update

A major milestone was reached this past weekend on the progress of the state’s Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Complex project in Downtown Denver’s Civic Center district: the demolition of the existing Colorado State Judicial Building.

If you were within a mile or two of Civic Center on Sunday morning, you probably heard a very loud bang at about 8:01 AM. That was the explosive “knock-down” (as opposed to an implosion) of what remained of the state’s 1970s modernist judicial building. Over the past month and a half, the Colorado Judicial Building had been undergoing a methodical deconstruction. Rather than ripping the building down outright, the building was “deskinned” of its light gray granite facade panels—part of the project’s recycling plan—which will be used within the new complex’s landscaped plaza areas. Much of the rest of building’s elements were also removed for recycling, leaving by Sunday morning a fragile shell of a building that was poised to be toppled by a few well-placed explosives. Even after Sunday’s explosion, much of the remaining rubble will be recycled.

Here are some DenverInfill photos that document the deconstruction of the Colorado Judicial Building.

July 5, 2010:

2010-08-16_rcjc1 2010-08-16_rcjc2

July 25, 2010:

2010-08-16_rcjc3 2010-08-16_rcjc4

Demolition Day minus 1 (that’d be Saturday):

2010-08-16_rcjc5 2010-08-16_rcjc6

2010-08-16_rcjc7 2010-08-16_rcjc8

The explosive knock-down Sunday morning, August 15, 2010 (courtesy of CBS 4 Denver):

The aftermath – later Sunday morning about 11:00 AM:

2010-08-16_rcjc9 2010-08-16_rcjc10

2010-08-16_rcjc11 2010-08-16_rcjc12

And finally, here’s the latest rendering view from the State Capitol (click/zoom to greatly embiggen) of the future Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Complex:


The Ralph L. Carr Judicial Complex is being funded through user fees backed by federal government stimulus bonds, and not through Colorado taxpayer dollars. The complex is scheduled to be completed in 2013.

By | 2016-12-05T16:12:18+00:00 August 16, 2010|Categories: Civic Center, Government & Civic, Infill, Urban Design|Tags: |20 Comments


  1. Troy R August 16, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    Colossal waste of (federal) tax money for this white elephant! Already miss the former structure.

    • Dana August 16, 2010 at 11:25 pm

      That’s the most awesome white elephant I’ve ever seen!! A wonderful replacement for that bunker that just fell down. It’s a beautiful building and will really fit in well with the Capitol Building and the City and County Building. And to think, it wasn’t even paid for by Colorado taxpayers! Seriously Troy. I just read that.

    • TakeFive August 17, 2010 at 12:19 am

      LOL My understanding is that this will be paid for, from court fees. They may have sold BAB’s or Build America Bonds, but those would be loans, that need to be paid back, No?

    • SC48 August 17, 2010 at 7:26 am

      As someone who used the old building, I can say that I will not miss it one bit. This building will be a great addition to Civic Center’s public facade and to the legal community. And yes, court filing fees were increased to pay (at least partially) for this. Worth every penny in my mind.

      Now if we could just clean up the park across the street, we may really have something going here…

  2. Ralph August 17, 2010 at 8:02 am

    Check out the Lambo in the rendering, just an average day with Denverites driving their Murciélagos to work…

  3. Dan August 17, 2010 at 8:56 am

    I really like the design – matches the purpose. It looks bigger than the first renderings you presented, covering more of the block. That’s good. Is that a ‘green’ roof over the south-east canopy – i.e. a lawn on the roof? It seems these structures almost triple the space of the old complex, no?

    Financing with fees is still taxpayer financing – just spread among fewer taxpayers fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to encounter this branch of our government. As someone else mentioned, loans have to be repaid – with taxpayer funds. This is not like DIA, nor should it be. I understand the previous facility was troublesome which was the primary reason to replace it. Let’s not kid ourselves about who is paying for it, though. At least we are getting an attractive structure that is hopefully durable and well-designed. (I understand the Webb building is an environmental embarrassment due to poor energy efficiency.) If we are going to spend taxpayer money, let’s get the best value we can.

    • matt.pizzuti August 17, 2010 at 10:55 am

      This isn’t just replacing a building with another one; it is an expansion of state-owned office space and a re-arrangement of public properties. Several closely-related satellite state offices will be consolidated into one building, which is probably going to improve the cost-efficiency of operating them.

      Meanwhile, this frees up the space in all the other state buildings, which can be cost-saving as well. I know that there are state offices that lease space in privately-owned office buildings: for example, Colorado’s Secretary of State office is currently in the Cash Register Building. Leasing space is a constant loss of revenue to the state; consolidation is good!

      The state can take the freed-up space in other buildings and sell it, lease it, or move in other offices. All those things are cost saving in the long run.

      I think the increase in user fees is probably due to the fact that the state budget is busted in general, and this is a way to pull a few more total revenues in without being seen to be “raising taxes.” The cost-savings of closing or selling the other offices are needed to pay for other programs. In better economic times, I don’t think raising court user fees would be necessary.

  4. christopher August 17, 2010 at 10:10 am

    To me the design looks like it belongs in Las Vegas with the odd columns and skylight… that being said it could be much worse

  5. The Dirt August 17, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    A civic building with columns and a skylight. How gaudy! I guess we should go tear down Washington DC because it looks like Las Vegas, too.

  6. Paul S August 18, 2010 at 2:25 am

    It definitely does not look “Las Vegas” in any way, shape, or form. I was just thinking the other day that it looks like a building that one would find in DC. This new rendering also shows how large and grand of a structure it is going to be. I’m surprised by its size. And I like that it is going to be more traditional looking with modern elements thrown in. Overall, a very nice civic building.

  7. Corey August 19, 2010 at 6:17 am

    I have to say, my first reaction to the posted image of the design was “Las Vegas casino.” Maybe its the angle of the perspective. It looks like the casino in the front and a towering hotel behind it. I am sure it will look great once it is completed. Most buildings do look better once built than they did in the renderings. The massing of the building and the neo-classical design elements look like they will fit the site extremely well.

  8. matt.pizzuti August 19, 2010 at 10:45 am

    How does this look as a size comparison to the capitol building? Will it significantly disrupt the nice visual relationship the capitol and the City and County building have?

  9. Tony August 20, 2010 at 7:33 am

    The pile of rubble was a signficant improvement over the original building. They didn’t even have to pay a star-chitect for the design, unlike the other glorified edifaces in the vicinity. It was a peice of crap and it died a peice of crap. It’s funny that no one is really morning the death of that box, with the ‘hi art’ murals.
    I agree that the new design as someone said a little las vegas-sy. This whole episode goes to prove that america can’t build anything worth keeping. A legacy from the 60’s.

    And isn’t grand, we coloradoans don’t have to have to pay for this. The federal gov’t just puts it on its limitless credit card and can continue to rack up those frequent flyer miles. This IS reason to celebrate.

    Meanwhile, now that our great residential boom is over we are still left with no downtown retail (except for the colorado turd bird shops of course), empty parking lots, mega parking garages (people finally started to catch on that parking lots were ugly), pathetic downtown population boom, and a multi-billion dollar transit system that helps people use their cars in a more functional way, while we all are stuck walking 6 blocks to a mile to get anywhere downtown.

    This projects embodies the epitomy of non-stop waste of our state and federal gov’ts.

    • matt.pizzuti August 20, 2010 at 6:02 pm

      The federal government is not paying for it, it’s just backing the loan.

  10. Tony August 23, 2010 at 6:26 am

    That’s what gov’t debt is.

  11. Lil Jimmy August 26, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    What an embarrassment for Denver. This is horrific architecture.

  12. Maharapa August 27, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Classical judicial architecture meets Foster Reichstag meets Graves’ postmodernism meets a pile of poo.

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  14. Mark August 31, 2010 at 9:02 am

    Was this building designed in 1986? What a terrible addition to this city.

  15. Daniel September 6, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Funny, I never heard the word “embiggen” till I moved to Springfield.

Comments are closed.