November 25, 2002 Indianapolis Star


Downtown building outgrew its space
28-story structure, which opened in 1962, was full 6 years later as agencies expanded.

November 25, 2002
The City-County Building is home to just about every major local government office, including offices of the mayor, City-County Council, prosecutor, public defender, county clerk, city treasurer and police headquarters.

When the $25 million City-County Building opened in January of 1962, Henry W. Manz of the Indianapolis-Marion County Building Authority expressed confidence that it would serve local government's needs until 1980.

"We also took into consideration the possibility of changes in space requirements due to microfilming and such things, which the auditor is using already to a great extent," Manz said then.

Automation did come, of course, and 1980 is a distant memory. Yet, there still stands the same building, serving the exact same function it did 40 years ago.

It's just a little bit more congested now than it was then.

And it didn't take long to get that way.

The building reached capacity in 1968, when 2,200 people worked there, up from 1,600 six years earlier, as the various government agencies expanded.

There are about 3,000 workers there today.

The growing agencies have prompted a series of relocations away from the City-County Building, ironic considering that it was built to solve the problem of a decentralized government.

Still, space for an expanded 29-member City-County Council was made in 1972, after the formation of Uni-Gov, and 16 courtrooms have been added since.

Users and employees have complained over the years about the building. Because the courts are located in it, everyone who enters, even a citizen paying taxes, has to go through a metal detector. Complaints about the eight elevators are also frequent.

The building consists of a center tower and two wings, encompassing 532,370 usable square feet.

The tower is 25 stories of offices, with two additional floors of mechanical space and an observation deck on the 28th floor.

The east wing is six stories high and houses the police department, municipal courts and the Marion County Lockup on the fifth floor. The west wing has five stories, though it is the same height as the east wing. It houses 16 courtrooms with 13-foot ceilings.

The Indianapolis and Marion County Bar associations' study is only the most recent call for a new courthouse.

In a 1991 study, the Building Authority recommended a $236 million courthouse. The study predicted 52 percent more space would be needed over the next 10 years. The suggestion was rejected by then-Mayor Stephen Goldsmith as too expensive.

In 1999, researchers determined that the courts' 295,409 gross square feet was short of the 465,535 needed. They predicted 500,000 square feet of space would be needed by 2010.

John Tuohy
john.tuohy@indystar.com