Architect: ZGF Partnership/Pietro Belluschi, design consultant, 1983
Inner detention areas by
Walker, McGough, Foltz, Lyerla (Spokane, Washington)
Along with the Portland Building, the Justice Center is a pioneering postmodern structure. City, county, and state branches of government are all present in this handsome, eighteen-story, concrete-faced example of "justice facility architecture." (In other words, it houses the police department, courts, and jail space.)
Immediately noticeable in front of the Justice Center's arcade on the west side are two beautiful cream-colored columns made from a porous Italian limestone called travertine. The sculptures are designed to symbolize the two aspects of justice in the building itself: the courts and the enforcement of the law. In the words of the sculptor, Walter Dusenberry, they are there to "perfume the slammer."
* Hardened Criminal: In 1989, a woman spent fifty days in jail here for giving her loved one a basket full of candy. Guess she hadn't read the fine print of the restraining order against her.
The west front colonnade provides tie-in with City Hall's design, but glass is the Justice Center's most notable feature. Above the main threshold on Third Avenue is a mammoth stained glass piece by Ed Carpenter. Enter from Third Avenue and go into the three-story, barrel-vaulted interior lobby. From here, one can view the natural light coming through Carpenter's beveled and colored glass. Incidentally, the glass in the lobby is meant to convey the openness of the judicial process within the building. That's a nice trick for a building that doubles as a jail; it's both open and shut.
* Through the vagaries of governmental financing, funding for the Justice Center came from the Federal Highway Administration's bridge program. Budget constraints meant that, in two of the courtrooms, judges use the same entry as defendants, initiating face-to-face encounters sometimes right after sentencing. Ulp.
The west windows of the Justice Center on the fourth through eighth floors are unusual. Wired apertures above the concave, reflective glass center front the area where the prisoners exercise. The slitted windows to either side of the glass center are jail cells, which reputedly offer a magnificent view of the Park Blocks and the Portland Building to the west. These have been specially designed to make it virtually impossible to see into the space from outside. It is possible to get a limited view from the inside out, however, so doubtless many inmates have gazed across the Plaza Blocks and debated whether the Portland Building is a good postmodern match for the Justice Center. (They certainly have a better view than workers in the Portland Building get with their boxy windows.) The tenth floor is an indoor and outdoor exercise area for the inmates. The five stories above that are police offices.
* Missionary and pioneer Dr. Elijah White laid out the following "White Code" for the Willamette Valley in the 1840s: "1.) Whoever shall take a life shall be hung. 2.) Whoever willfully shall burn a building shall be hung. 3.) Whoever shall steal an article of more than a beaver pelt shall receive fifty lashes and pay back twofold."Less Text