Courthouse rennovations in progress

Staff Writer
Dallas County News

The fourth floor of the Dallas County will be transformed.

Eric Rose, Dallas County Courthouse facilities manager, said the fourth floor courtroom, an area formerly used for storage and as a small caliber target range during World War II, is being renovated and progress is being made.

The use of the fourth floor courtroom had been restricted because of concerns about the floor to hold the number of people the court schedule would generate, Rose said. As the country grows, the number of cases the courts manage has also grown, which places more people in the court areas at the same time. During the past investigations of the fourth floor, engineers have always recommended that we tear out the ceiling of the third floor to strengthen the joists upstairs. This would have made the third floor largely unusable during the construction process, the courthouse facilities manager said.

Shuck-Briston, consulting engineers of Des Moines, have designed a way to strengthen the floor without tearing out the third floor ceilings, using laminated wood beams mechanically fastened to the existing joints to meet the load requirement, he said. The lobby and hall area are now rated to carry a load of 100 pound-per-square-foot. This exceeds the load capacity that the Fire Marshall will allow in that area. Occupancy codes allow one person per seven square foot of space. The floor of the lobby is now stronger than the occupancy the Fire Marshall will allow, he said. We are also installing new HVAC diffusers which will help solve the discoloration issue we were experiencing, he said. There were small patches of cladosporium around the air diffusers; this is the same type of fungi that grows on the stone ledges of the courthouse. We will also disinfect the HVAC system on the fourth floor every other year to prevent any regrowth, he said.

The roof is scheduled to be repaired in the spring with plaster repairs necessitated by past weather damage. The Dallas County Courthouse has a large roof, Rose said. Expansion and contraction due to temperature changes takes its toll over time. Maintenance is ongoing for a building this size, he said.