Repairs and Alterations at the Edward R. Roybal Building by Stronghold Engineering, Inc.

Stronghold Engineering is a construction company based in California. They have been in the construction industry for thirty years and their time has been marked by some amazing feats. Not only is the company an award-winning company, but it has also been trusted by the U.S. government for carrying out repair works on various historical buildings. 

In 2018, Stronghold partnered up with CannonDesign to carry out repairs and alterations at the Edward R. Roybal Building and the United States Courthouse. This building is located in Los Angeles, CA, in the Civic Center district, on Temple Road in Downtown. This 22-floor monumental structure was designed by architect Welton Becket and first opened its doors in January 1992. It has been named after the United States Congressman Edward R. Roybal. One year after its opening, in 1993, it became famous for being the site for the trial of four Los Angeles Police Department officials who were involved in the beating of Rodney King in 1991. 

In addition to the building housing full amenities, such as an Espresso Bar, a Childcare Center and a Health Unit, it is also the site for some famous artwork. It has on-site a sculpture by Joel Shapiro and a sculpture by Jonathan Borofsky, called the “Molecule Man 2 + 2”. Another sculpture on-site is “The New World” by Tom Otterness. The sculpture by Otterness has its own interesting history as the very person whom the building had been named after had initially requested that the sculpture should be removed. In Roybal’s view, the sculpture belonged in a museum but not in a federal building. 

In March 2016, the United States General Services Administration got the go-ahead from the U.S. Congress for the upgradation of the building with a budget of $19 million. On March 25, Stronghold Engineering was awarded a design-build contract by the GSA. The total cost of the renovation project was $17.8 million. The project was started in April 2016 and was completed by September 2018. The project covered an area of 1,076,223 square feet. 

Stronghold carried out extensive repairs on 12 floors of the building. The project was started with the aim of facilitating the consolidation of various federal court functions that included the Pretrial Services, Magistrate Courts, and the District Court Clerk. These courts were situated at 312 North Spring Street and were later moved to the Roybal Courthouse after the completion of renovation works. The project also resulted in some of the existing courthouses being repurposed to make space for the U.S. District Court, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Pretrial Services, and the Circuit Library. The project not only involved relocating the Circuit Library but also a massive redesign that became a prominent feature of the building. The project was divided up into five phases and constructed over a period of 18 months. 

To make sure that existing agencies had a place to work at all times, the Design-Build Team did a brilliant job of designing swing spaces. This allowed the court staff to be relocated temporarily during the remodelling so that they could continue to work without any hindrance. The contributions of the Design-Build Team were instrumental in ensuring a seamless construction of the project. The Team developed a phasing plan that allowed for minimal disruption to the agencies that were already housed in the building, and it also allowed the building to remain in operation for the duration of the repairs. Included in the Design services was, design development, construction documents, schematic design, site investigation, cost estimations, code compliance, site measurements and verification, and contract administration. 

Over the course of the project, the Stronghold team demolished existing courthouses which gave way for the creation of open-air spaces. While other courtrooms were given an upgraded finish. To better manage the influx of people into and out of the building, two new intake areas were created. New office space for the Pretrial Office was also constructed. The biggest challenge in the project was to ensure that the building continued operation throughout the length of the project. Aside from the swing office spaces, the Stronghold team worked during night hours exclusively so that the building could return to full functionality during daytime hours.  

Upon successful completion of the project, Krista Miller, the Contracting Officer at General Services Administration had to say, “Stronghold consistently adhered to the contract, and held their subcontractors accountable to the contract as well. There were no safety or health issues, and not a single recordable injury throughout the entire job, which included 106,054 work hours. Also, the contract required that at least 50% of waste be recycled. SEI recycled over 85% of waste. I would be pleased to work with SEI on future projects.” Stronghold was able to achieve no accidents on site because of its continued commitment to safety for its employees. A longstanding advocate for incorporating green practices in its operations, the fact that 85 percent of the waste was recycled is a testament that Stronghold’s claims are backed up by action. 

In 2019, as recognition for completing the assigned project in an exemplary way, Stronghold Engineering was awarded Engineering News-Record’s (ENR) Best Projects Award of Merit in Renovation/Restoration. ENR is a construction and engineering news outlet that analyses and reports on construction industry professionals. Its Regional Best Projects Awards program has been initiated to celebrate the best construction projects. Winning construction projects are selected by an independent jury of leaders in the construction industry. The jury awards projects against five criteria. These include, overcoming challenges and teamwork; safety; innovation and contribution to the industry; construction quality and craftsmanship; and, the functionality of design and aesthetic quality. 

Stronghold has been able to deliver exceptional services that exceed the expectations of those they work with because of the excellent leadership and high standards that the company continually strives towards. This has allowed the team at Stronghold Engineering to continue to deliver exceptional results even under the most challenging of circumstances.