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Aging Courthouse Offers Inside Look at Deferred Maintenance


By Dan Hounsell Maintenance & Operations
Miami Dade Courthouse
JRP Studio / Shutterstock.com

What does deferred maintenance look like? Institutional and commercial facilities have wrestled with the problem for decades, and it surfaces regularly in news accounts of rundown and aging buildings, especially in public school districts.

Now, an inside look at the decay inside Miami-Dade County’s civil courthouse provides an illustration of the issue, according to DJC Oregon. Once the centerpiece of municipal architecture in downtown Miami, with columned walls at the base and a ziggurat roof, the county’s 27-story courthouse now offers a case study in deferred maintenance and daunting deterioration. Repairs needed for a legally required building recertification have been delayed under two Miami-Dade mayors.

The low point arrived July 9, when Chief Judge Nushin Sayfie ordered all court offices closed in the building after Miami-Dade turned over a July 6 inspection report by Miami engineering firm U.S. Structures Inc.

The analysis, ordered up after the Surfside condo building collapse on June 24, urged the county to clear out the upper floors and quickly shore up an “excessively corroded” column on the 25th floor. The recommendation to keep some floors empty but allow the courthouse to remain occupied didn’t sit well with court administrators, who wanted the entire building closed for repairs.

A more extensive inspection report performed by a different engineering firm later in July found the courthouse safe to reopen without significant repairs. Even so, the courthouse remains out of compliance with Miami-Dade’s own requirement for structural and safety certifications every decade once a building reaches its 40th year.

The courthouse reached that milestone in the 1960s, but Dade County didn’t enact its recertification law until 1975, following the collapse of a federal building in Miami. There’s no record of Miami ever granting the building the required recertification documents, and in 2014, a city inspector affixed a violation notice on the courthouse entrance.

Dan Hounsell is Senior Editor, Facility Market.

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