The new federal courthouse on Niagara Square was officially dedicated Thursday afternoon. Speakers included Senator Charles Schumer, Congressman Brian Higgins, WNY U.S. District Court Chief Justice William M. Skretny, U.S. General Services Regional Administrator Denise Pease, U.S. Court of Appeals Second Circuit Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs, Court of Appeals Second Circuit Justice Richard Wesley, WNY U.S. District Court Judge Richard Arcara, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and William Pedersen of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates.
The 10-story, 261,000-square-foot glass covered structure features a curved south wall overlooking Niagara Square, 690 punched window openings and triangular shaped element featuring the United States Constitution etched into glass.
The building achieved the Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification under the U.S. Green Building Council standards, the first federal building in District 2 to achieve the standard, and won the 2011 Award for Design and Manufacturing Excellence from the Architectural Precast Association. It will be home to the U.S. District Court, Court of Appeals, U.S. Probation, U.S. Marshals, U.S. Attorney and GSA.
“Sitting on the edge of Niagara Square, this magnificent, modern center of justice is symbolic of Buffalo’s storied history and the great future ahead of us,” noted Congressman Brian Higgins. “We the people of Buffalo and Western New York believe in truth and fairness, we stand tall and come together during our trials and we love this community we call home. This is another good day for Western New York.”
It took 15 years to bring the building to fruition. For years the Buffalo Courthouse project sat at the top of a list of federal priority projects but failed to receive funding. After entering Congress, Higgins championed the project speaking directly with the Chair of the Transportation Committee, testifying before the House Budget Committee asking for inclusion of the remaining $46.7 million in funding needed for the Buffalo Courthouse in the Budget Resolution, and in 2007 pushing for passage of a resolution that specifically gave the General Services Administration (GSA) a green light to proceed on the $137 million project in Buffalo. Buffalo was the only courthouse funded that year.
In December Congressman Higgins introduced a bill, H.R. 3556, with the unanimous and bipartisan support of the New York House delegation naming the courthouse for Robert H. Jackson, the only Western New Yorker to serve as Supreme Court Justice. The bill has been approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee and will soon move to the Floor for a full vote of the House of Representatives. Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Schumer and Gillibrand.