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Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building

Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building

Thurgood Marshall Building
Overview 

The Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building houses agencies that support the work of the United States Federal Courts including the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, the Federal Judicial Center, and the United States Sentencing Commission. It was completed in 1992 and two years later named for Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993), the first African-American to sit on the U. S. Supreme Court.

In 1985, Architect of the Capitol George White was authorized to begin studying the possibility of providing an office building for the federal courts. He invited the country's leading architects and developers to submit proposals for the new building; they were to present ideas combining architectural solutions with creative financing options to "minimize or eliminate initial capital investment by the United States through the use of public-private partnerships or non governmental sources of financing." The invitation was an innovative scheme to provide the judicial branch with a first-class building without resorting to the usual appropriation process. Financial and real-estate consultants were retained to advise the Architect of the Capitol in matters relating to market analysis, cost evaluation, business deal structure, and implementation. Forty-three development firms were contacted, of which nineteen indicated an interest in the project. From this list, five developer-architect teams were asked to submit proposals. A jury unanimously selected the team of Edward Larraby Barnes/John M. Y. Lee & Partners as the architects and Boston Properties as the developer. Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist approved the selection on January 13, 1989.

By the terms of the innovative financing package, the Architect of the Capitol agreed to lease the site to the developer for thirty years. He also agreed to lease the finished building for 30 years, at which time it would revert to the government at no cost. Rents would be used to amortize the privately raised debt. Not since the 1790s, when the board of commissioners attempted to finance the Capitol and White House through the sale of city lots, had such unconventional financing been tried on a federal construction project. Unlike the commissioners' bungled efforts, however, this financing scheme proved entirely satisfactory.

Ground was broken for the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building on April 4, 1990, and tenants began to occupy the finished building on October 1, 1992. It cost $101 million, providing more than 600,000 square feet of rentable space within its overall million-square-foot interior.

Last Updated: June 20, 2012