Mortenson Construction

The Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center is being built to last as long as the Carr legacy itself. The former Colorado governor held office during WWII from 1939 to 1943. He openly opposed the Japanese-American internment camps − an unpopular stance during that time. As this new construction project demonstrates, the former governor is now heralded as a civil rights pioneer.

In 2006, Trammel Crow was hired as the owner’s project manager, and in 2008, the state passed a bill authorizing construction of a new state and judicial complex named after Carr. In July 2009, Mortenson Construction was selected as the construction manager and general contractor for the project.

Mortenson’s international presence consists of 11 offices capable of engraining itself within each community. It introduced itself to the Denver market in 1981 and has since built landmark sites including Coors Field – home to the Colorado Rockies – and The Denver Art Museum’s Frederic C. Hamilton Building.

“We work in a lot of different markets,” says Dave Kuntz, Mortenson project manager. “We focus on our clients’ needs. We want to understand our customer and what’s important to them.”

Built to Last

At the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center, longevity topped the list. The center consists of a 4-story, 158,000-square-foot courthouse; a 12-story, 441,000-square-foot state department office building; and an 81,000-square-foot, 300-space parking structure. The center occupies an entire city block and is being designed and constructed to last at least 100 years.

“All the materials going into the project are being checked against the standard of a 100-year building,” Kuntz says. “We’re checking for quality of all the materials, the enclosure and how everything ties together.”

Previously, the Colorado History Museum and the old state supreme and appellate courthouse called the site home. They were demolished last summer, and the museum’s resources are in storage as the state constructs a new museum one block south.

The courts relocated to a temporary two-floor space at the Denver Newspaper Agency building. In a contract separate from the Carr Center project, Mortenson renovated the first floor to house temporary courtrooms and a law library for the state’s supreme and appellate courts. The eighth floor was renovated for the court’s administrative functions. Mortenson began the renovations in February 2010 and completed it three months later.

In 2013, the court system will move to its new 4-story, granite-clad facility, where a four-column portico leads into a glass-domed atrium that creates that lofty courthouse atmosphere. In the steel and concrete structure next door, several state departments will neighbor the courthouse in this 12-story structure. This building is part of an effort to consolidate its functions, which are scattered around downtown Denver in market-rate spaces.

Both structures are designed for LEED Gold certification with environmentally friendly features like the courthouse’s green roof and construction practices such as recycling approximately 95 percent of the materials from the demolished facilities.

Mortenson boasts 47 LEED accredited professionals in the Colorado office and 268 nationwide. The company also built the NREL Science and Technology Facility in Golden, Colo., to LEED Platinum standards, as well as Denver’s LEED-Platinum 1800 Larimer office building.

Mortenson broke ground on the Carr Center with demolition in May 2010. It began above ground construction in August 2010, and as of March 2011, it is pouring concrete for the courtroom’s second floor and laying steel for the building’s seventh floor.

The project requires an integrated project delivery method between Mortenson and Fentress Architects due to the job’s fast pace. “The pace of the job doesn’t allow for the contract documents to be complete prior to the work going into place,” Kuntz says.

Working for the State

As Mortenson diligently works to complete the structure built to last 100 years in just three years, it is also renovating the Byron G. Rogers Federal Office Building and U.S. Courthouse in downtown Denver. This 620,000-square-foot modernization project started December 2010 and will conclude in the summer of 2013. Mortenson is the design/builder that will upgrade the structure to bring the federal site to a LEED Platinum standard. 

“This renovation project will set high standards in regards to taking an existing structure and transforming it into a highly efficient and sustainable structure that will meet and exceed expectations,” says Bob Hansen, vice president and general manager of Mortenson’s Denver office.

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