Pioneer Courthouse Re-Dedication Ceremony Portland Oregon

As prepared for delivery.


Remarks by
David L. Bibb
Acting Administrator
U.S. General Services Administration
Pioneer Courthouse Re-Dedication Ceremony
Portland, Oregon
December 12, 2005


Thank you very much Jon (Kvistad) for that kind introduction, and good morning ladies and gentlemen. Chief Judge (Mary) Schroeder…Judge (Diarmuid) O'scannlain. 

To First Lady Mary Oberst, the many distinguished members of the judiciary, and to all others gathered here today…

It is my pleasure and great honor to represent the Bush Administration and the U.S. General Services Administration at this ceremony celebrating one of our most cherished historic buildings – the Pioneer Courthouse.

The rededication of this national treasure is a very special occasion for Portland, for the state of Oregon, and for America. As you know, the Pioneer Courthouse is the second oldest federal courthouse west of the Mississippi, and is among the top five historic properties managed by GSA. That puts this facility in some very good company.

Reaching this great day has required a true team effort and the active participation of many parties. We’re here not only to celebrate the successful completion of a complex project, but to pay tribute to those who worked so hard to ensure our success.

That would certainly include the Oregon congressional delegation, the jurists of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and all the GSA associates whose talent, enthusiasm and commitment were so evident in each phase of the project.

And it would certainly include circuit Judge Diarmuid O'scannlain whose diligence and oversight from beginning to end helped ensure we met all the needs of the local judiciary.

I would also like to acknowledge our partners at the National Park Service, Oregon State Historic Preservation Office, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.  Before construction began, we reviewed our plans and negotiated a memorandum of agreement with these three bodies to ensure that the courthouse would be properly preserved as it was upgraded.  In crafting the agreement, we also benefited from consultation with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the U.S. Postal Service, the U.S. Courts and the city of Portland.  We thank all of these leaders for their commitment to historic preservation.

I also want to thank: Don Eggleston, president of Sera Architects, Inc. The lead design architect; Fred Shipman, president of J.E. Dunn Construction, Northwest, the general contractor; and our GSA team, operating under the leadership of Regional Administrator Jon Kvistad.  The GSA team was headed by Project Manager Willie Hirano, Regional Historic Preservation Officer Barbara Campagna, Pat Clark, Director of the Property Development Division, and Rob Graf, Public Buildings Service Assistant Regional Administrator. 

Thank you all for your outstanding work. Each of you helped make certain that the Pioneer Courthouse, which has served so many citizens in the past, will continue to operate as a worldclass facility for generations to come.

While the beauty of this courthouse and its historic elements are evident to each and every visitor, there is also much more here than meets the eye.

“Friction pendulum base isolator” is a device perhaps best explained by the experts. What it means to me is earthquake insurance. That is, 75 of these isolators were installed below the building, essentially separating the structure from the ground. If an earthquake strikes, the isolators will limit the amount of energy the building has to absorb, thus improving safety and minimizing damage. This state-of-the-art seismic strengthening system will allow the pioneer courthouse to survive an earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale with only minimal damage. That is a remarkable feat of engineering. 

We should also talk a little about what does meet the eye. That includes:

  • The preservation of significant historic spaces; including the courtroom, first floor corridor and the first floor registry office;
  • The repair and restoration of the historic plaster ceilings and walls, woodwork, flooring, and site fence;
  • The rehabilitation of the landscape and trimming of the historic trees originally planted in 1875;
  • New exterior lighting to improve visibility at night; and
  • The new west entrance, which links the most historically important building in Portland to Pioneer Courthouse Square, the city’s most socially important public space.

GSA is also responsible for providing future maintenance and upkeep in a manner that will support the operations of the court, and in a manner that will make us all proud. All of us at GSA pledge that we will do just that.

In closing, we are also here today to express our heart-felt gratitude to those who will work to administer justice within the walls of this building in years to come.

It’s wonderful to know that this facility will provide the space and amenities the court needs to continue the rich tradition of service that dates back 130 years, when the Pioneer Courthouse first opened for business.

Again, on behalf of GSA, on behalf of President Bush and on behalf of the American people, congratulations, and best wishes for continued success in the future.

Thank you very much.

Last Reviewed 2010-08-18