At its completion in 1914, the Multnomah County Courthouse enjoyed the distinction of being the largest building in Portland and the largest courthouse on the West Coast. Today the building remains a prominent structure in Portland and has become, arguably, the strongest symbol of County government. The Courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is also listed as a City Landmark with the City of Portland.
SERA has performed 20 studies on the Multnomah County Courthouse over the past 15 years. The most recent study was completed in April 2011. SERA was retained to conduct a feasibility study with the express purpose to determine the economic, logistic, and redevelopment viability of renovating the downtown Courthouse, while simultaneously maintaining a substantial portion of the operations in the building. This study strategized an approach to the renovation that would infill the light court with new systems chases, provide new courts and office spaces, and coordinate a 2-3 floor renovation of the existing space over a 4-6 year period.
Previous SERA studies in 1995 projected the need for a new court facility in a new location. The 1995 study projected space needs to the year 2040, and these general program projections formed the basis for a 2000 study. The court’s program criteria was applied to multiple re-use alternatives to be accommodated in the historic structure. Spatial impacts of the court’s program coupled with systems upgrades and security enhancements were studied, priced, and conveyed to the steering committee via plan diagrams and vertical stacking diagrams. Following studies looked at what could or should be done to renovate the building to meet the court’s needs while vacating the building.