The Office of the North Carolina
Appellate Reporter

  Court of Appeals / Special Sessions / Courthouse Renovation


JANUARY 11, 2010

North Carolina Court of Appeals building Inside the courtroom at the Court of Appeals The grand stairs inside the Court of Appeals
The newly revonated Court of Appeals building. Inside the courtroom at the Court of Appeals. The grand stairs inside the Court of Appeals.



GOOD MORNING: Almost 2 years ago, on the last day of January 2008, we gathered in the courtroom upstairs to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the first session of this Court. At that gathering, we announced that this grand old building, which some say is second only to the Capitol in its classic beauty (and others say it might not be second) and has been the home of so many of the great institutions of our State government, and yet has suffered from inattention over those many years, would undergo a complete renovation. Today marks the completion of that process, which actually began over 4 years ago. It is a great day; a day for which so many of our present and former judges have been waiting for such a long time, indeed there has been talk of renovating this building at least since 1985, when I first came to this Court. It is a day which the current judges and staff of this Court have been acutely awaiting since May 2008 when we moved to temporary quarters. The wait is over - today, when we cut this ribbon and you have a chance to walk throughout the building, you will see that this is once again a building of which the citizens of North Carolina may be very proud, housing an institution of which they should also be very proud.



We are particularly proud that our governor, Bev Perdue, could be with us today.
Our great Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court - 5 of whom are former members of this Court.
Members of the Council of State, including our Attorney General, Roy Cooper.
Members of the Governors Cabinet, especially Secretary of Administration Britt Cobb, whose department oversaw the renovations.
We welcome so many of our former colleagues who have returned to join us for this event, and are particularly honored that Mrs. Anne Saunders, the daughter of our first Chief Judge, Raymond Mallard, along with Mrs. Pat Hedrick, the wife of former Chief Judge Fred Hedrick, and Rose Vaughn Williams, the daughter of former Chief Judge Earl Vaughn are here. Our special thanks to Mrs. Saunders and her mother for their generosity in providing us with so many of Chief Judge Mallard's papers and other materials for our historical exhibit in the Court's gallery.
We are also glad that Stephanie Ross, who is the president of D. S. Simmons,Inc., our general contractor, and Paul Jeffreys, Vice President of Construction Services are here with us this morning.
Again, thank you all for coming.

* Former Gov. Mike Easley who recognized that the State's 2nd highest Court needed a safe and comfortable place to do its work and helped us secure the funding.
* Greg Driver of the State Construction Office for his perseverance and encouragement, and for his assistance in so many ways in getting this project underway.
* All of the people who had a hand in designing the project -  
* We interviewed a number of architectural firms, and we picked the right one for this job - LS3P Associates - Katherine Peele, Leigh Stewart (headed design team), Doug Dorney, and their staff all did a great job in creating the plans for what we have here today,
* Ron Little from the State Construction office,
* From the Administrative Office of the Courts, Bill Stuckey,
* And from our Court, Doug McCullough, John Connell, Linda McGee, and Bob Northrup.

Our goal from the beginning was to marry the historical attributes of this beautiful old building with the efficiency and utility of a modern office, and I think you will agree, when you walk through, that our design team hit a home run.
A good design is only part of the picture, you need to get the right people to build the design. We knew this would not be a simple project, and we were looking for the best people to build it - we were so fortunate that D.S. Simmons, Inc. submitted the most favorable bid, was awarded the contract, and then engaged so many talented subcontractors.
With Paul Jeffreys and job Superintendent John Breshears from D.S. Simmons, project architect David O'Shea from LS3P, Ron Little from State Construction, Bill Stuckey from AOC, and our own Appellate Court’s IT staff, we truly had the ADream Team@ on this job. I should add that Bill Stuckey and his staff, Dawn Underwood, Brenda Allen, and Bonnie Goad, arranged for securing badly needed furnishings and equipment for us and arranged an almost painless move back to our offices.

I want you all to know that throughout the design phase, and the construction phase, every one of us was very mindful that as good stewards of the taxpayers' money, we were required to make the very best use of the available funds. Together, this team was able (1) to bring all of the Court's 91 employees under one roof for the first time in ten years; (2) provide a safe, comfortable, and efficient work space, (3) equip the Court with technological capacity which is, I believe, competitive with any state appellate court in the country; (4) to do that within budget, without wasting a single square foot or a single red cent. And the Court remained fully operational throughout the entire process and was not closed for even an hour because of it.
* We also thank Danny Moody and the Supreme Court Historical Society for creating and mounting the beautiful exhibit on the third floor which chronicles the history of the Court. I think you will enjoy seeing it.
* Finally, special thanks to Judge Linda McGee and her assistant, Peggy Seifert, for all of their hard work in arranging for this event.

Please join me in showing our appreciation to all of these folks.
I would now like to introduce to you Katherine Peele, Vice President and Principal in the Raleigh Office of LS3P Associates, and thereafter, Paul Jeffreys, Vice President of Construction Services for D.S. Simmons, Inc. for remarks. LS3P and D.S. Simmons are the sponsors of our reception which will follow the ribbon cutting, and LS3P also provided the invitations and printed program.

After we cut this ribbon, please join us for a reception in the third floor gallery.

Martin, Peele and Jeffreys cut the ribbon



Thank you for inviting me to speak today. This is the second time that I have spoken to some of you, as you will recall that David O’Shea of LS3P/Boney and I talked last month at your Christmas gathering. At that time, David and I didn’t realize that we were merely the warm-up act for the headline attraction, which was comprised of a select group of judges, who formed a chorus line and performed high kicks while singing the 12 days of trial to the tune of the 12 days of Christmas. If, God forbid, I am ever in a situation where I have to stand trial before some of the distinguished members of this court, I am going to have an extremely difficult time getting that image out of my head.

Today, I would like to talk briefly about some of the construction issues that were unique to this project. Obviously one of the major obstacles to our work was the limited space. The City allowed us to close one lane of Morgan Street, but in this small area, we had to store dumpsters, lifts and materials. There was virtually no room left for parking. Therefore, we contracted with one of the local parking companies and rented six spaces for our regular employees. However, less than a month into the project, we discovered that we could actually save money by parking on Fayetteville Street and paying the parking violations. We therefore cancelled our rental agreement and were happy to make weekly contributions to the city. I of course, as project manager, was more than happy to take full credit for this brilliant cost-saving strategy.

Almost immediately after mobilization, we began demolition activities. Within a month, we had taken the elevators out of service, and begun removal of the monumental stair, leaving no way to transport materials to the upper floors except by walking them up the two service stairs on either end of the building or by utilizing hydraulic lifts and passing materials through open windows. Needless to say, most everyone on site received their daily recommendation for aerobic activity while working here. Even so, a few of us still managed to gain a few pounds during the course of this project.

Once the old stairway was removed, we had an open shaft, extending from the basement all of the way through the roof, a total of (5) stories. We had to barricade this opening at every floor in order to provide proper fall protection for our employees. Additionally, there was an opening in the roof where the new skylight was to be installed. One of our greatest challenges was keeping this area dry and safe from the elements while completing the steel framing and waiting for the skylight and stairs to be fabricated off site. We were actually painting walls in the rest of the building while this 5-story shaft remained open. In total, we had a temporary enclosure on the roof for nearly five months.

In addition to protecting the new finishes, we had to protect some of the existing finishes, most notably in the third floor courtroom. I’m sure many of you are familiar with the extravagant plaster and painting that adorned the ceilings and walls. We had to maintain climate control in this one room for the duration of the project, even though the old heating and air conditioning system had been removed. Furthermore, about 2/3 of the way into the project, we discovered that the existing tile and floor system was badly deteriorated and had to be replaced. Eventually, we completed a major renovation in the courtroom that was originally to have been left untouched. We repaired the floor system and replaced the tile with carpet, replaced the curtain behind the Judge’s bench with a paneled wall system and installed a state-of-the-art electronics package that has the ability to link with local TV stations. I think you’ll find that the acoustics are much better in the courtroom now, and the upgrades are really spectacular. You should know that Judge Martin was instrumental in seeing that these improvements were made.

There are a few other changes to our original contract that bear mention. The plaster ceiling you see above you was restored by one of our specialty subcontractors who has performed this kind of work all over the world. Their resume actually included a history of work at Buckingham Palace. The guard desk you see here in the lobby is now reinforced with bulletproof glass and walls. The sidewalks and grassed areas at the building entrance are new and add a finishing touch to the entire project.

Finally, I believe that perhaps the most remarkable transformation is the basement area. When we arrived, that area was dark and damp with leaking pipes and failing plaster everywhere. Now, its bright, with a break room and kitchenette. It houses a print room and a mailroom with a dumbwaiter that will deliver the mail to each floor, saving a lot of wear and tear on your mailroom clerk.

Please allow me to take a few moments to thank some of the members of the construction team that have been instrumental in the successful completion of this project. First, we have present the CEO of DSS, Cleve Paul and his daughter, our president Stephanie Ross. I would like to thank them for their leadership and integrity, and their commitment to quality that they instill in all of their employees. Next from DSS I would like to thank our superintendent, John Breshears and assistant superintendent John Breshears Jr. These guys are the first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave every evening and are responsible for every aspect of the project. I admire them for their work ethic and commitment, and I am fortunate to have John as both a co-worker and a friend.

LS3P/Boney is one of the premiere architectural firms in this state and we are always thrilled when we can land a project with them. David O’Shea was the construction administrator for LS3P and his participation was invaluable. To illustrate his level of commitment, I would like to tell you what happened to David near the end of this project. With about a month left to go, when we were trying to bring everything together and turn the building over for move-in, David’s daughter became seriously ill and had to be hospitalized. We all feared that we would lose David at this critical juncture in the project, but he continued to stay in contact daily from the hospital. And although I could hear the worry and fatigue in David’s voice, he continued to make calls and receive calls from his daughter’s hospital room, apparently oblivious to the fact that his cell phone transmissions were wreaking havoc with the pacemaker patients in the cardiac wing.

Dewberry Engineering was responsible for design and oversight of the mechanical systems and I appreciate the contributions of Jim Ottmer and Johnny Wood of this firm.

Ron Little was our State Construction Officer and I would like to thank him for his practical approach to problem solving and his wise counsel throughout the course of this project.

For the user group, I believe that Bill Stuckey deserves special recognition. I’m not sure what Bill’s official title is, but it should be something like “chief coordinator of all the aggravating and thankless tasks that absolutely no one else in their right mind would be willing to undertake.” I don’t know if he can fit all of that on his business card, but that’s how it should read.

Finally, you should know that Judge Martin was responsible for many of the improvements and “creature comforts” that have been incorporated into this project. Carpet upgrades, courtroom changes, sidewalks and a long list of conveniences were the direct result of his input and perseverance. He even corrected spelling errors on some of the signage. We all owe him our thanks for his involvement and attention to detail.

In conjunction with an excellent group of subcontractors, namely Ivey Mechanical, Hawley Electric, M&M Plumbing and Allied Fire Protection, I can say without reservation that this is the best construction team that I have ever been privileged to be part of.

In closing, I would like to say that it has been a pleasure being involved in this project and meeting so many of you who will be using this building. In my brief interaction with you, it has become evident the respect and admiration you share for each other, and the commitment you have to upholding the laws of this state. It is my hope that the improvements made at this building will enhance your efficiency and ability to work together as you serve the people of North Carolina.

Thank you for allowing me to speak today and for providing D.S. Simmons the opportunity to be a part of this important project.


Governor Perdue, Chief Judge Martin and Distinguished Guests:

Good morning.

I am very honored to represent LS3P Associates, on this exciting day, as we re-dedicate the historic Ruffin Building. The design of this project has been a true labor of love for our firm, to have the opportunity to breathe new life into this beautiful old structure.

In your program is some information about the history of the building, which was built in 1911. Over the years, the building has undergone numerous renovations. But, with this project, we were pleased to be able to restore some of the original character of the building, including the re-creation of this monumental stair in the center of the building, while also creating a modern office environment for the Court.

I’d like to thank the many people that were instrumental in bringing this project to reality. Thank you to Chief Justice Martin, Judge McGee and Bill Stuckey, as well as all of the Court of Appeals judges and staff for their tremendous help and patience in working thru the design and construction. Thanks also to the NC State Construction office, Greg Driver, Cindy Browning and our outstanding project manager, Ron Little. I’d also like to thank our wonderful contractor, DS Simmons, led by their project manager Paul Jeffreys and the awesome superintendent team of John Breshears and John Breshears Jr. This is the second time that our firm has had the pleasure of working with this great team from DS Simmons and I can’t say enough about their professionalism and dedication to creating a quality end product for the Owner.

And, finally, thanks to our team at LS3P, most particularly our construction administrator, David O’Shea, for his hard work and perseverance in making sure all the details came together.

We are truly grateful to have been a part of this project — thank you for the wonderful opportunity to restore an architectural gem for the State of North Carolina.


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