By Mike Gutwig
Multnomah County held a “topping out” ceremony Nov. 9 to celebrate completion of most of the steel framework on its new Central Courthouse.
Members of Iron Workers Local 29 and Operating Engineers Local 701 hoisted an iron beam to the 17th floor of the building, currently under construction at 236 SW First Ave. in Portland, near the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge. The beam, painted white, bore signatures of many of the 500 construction workers on the project, along with their respective union locals, plus numerous Multnomah County employees, union officials, and other dignitaries. On top of the beam, by tradition, were an American flag to symbolize patriotism and an evergreen tree to symbolize permanence and the everlasting nature of the building.
The 325-foot tower will replace the outdated and overcrowded existing courthouse at 1021 S.W. Fourth Ave. Completion is set for spring 2020.
At a cost of $325 million, the new courthouse will have 44 courtrooms; the Multnomah Law Library; Family Court Services, which provides mediation, counseling, and educational classes; CourtCare, a free, drop-in child-care service for low-income families who have business at the courthouse; and a coffee stand run by the Oregon Commission for the Blind.
The project is being built under a project labor agreement signed by Multnomah County, the Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council, and the Pacific NW Regional Council of Carpenters. The agreement contains aggressive goals for minority and women apprenticeship and journey level workers. Hoffman Construction is the general contractor.