It has been said that one should never let a good crisis go to waste. Likewise, there is a skill, and even an art, to seeing opportunities amid complex, daunting problems.  
 
The City of Ann Arbor found itself in a difficult situation. With the Police Department located in dank and leaky basement space for over 30 years and facilities that didn’t meet current policing standards (for officers, victims, or prisoners), officer morale was at such a low that the stability of the force suffered. The City was one unfortunate incident away from a major liability. Compounding this was the need to relocate the 15th District courts and administrative offices from overcrowded leased space. 
 
While the City hoped for a new municipal complex to incorporate new courts and police facilities, a location could not be secured, nor, for that matter, could the required level of funding.  
 
Enter Quinn Evans Architects. Analyzing the challenges and opportunities, QEA developed a vision for a transformed municipal complex by renovating and adding to the existing City Hall, designed by noted Michigan architect Alden B. Dow. The new complex would accommodate Courts-Police facilities while fully revitalizing City Hall. The asphalt parking lot surrounding the building would be converted into a new urban landscape to engage the public featuring gardens, plazas, and a fountain sculpture. This alternative was estimated at half the cost of the new building option. 
Completed in Fall 2011 for just under $47.4 million, the first phase of this endeavor created the new Justice Building and partially renovated the existing City Hall. A proposed second phase includes the remaining renovation of City Hall and re-cladding the building. Although there was initial concern about the financing, the community has been very supportive of the project.  
 
Citizens are enjoying a revitalized downtown with a vibrant new building that creates open, friendly public spaces. Public plazas on the north and south sides of the site promote pedestrian access while mitigating the impact of storm water via rain gardens, a vegetative green roof, and public sculpture that utilizes rainwater. The result is an exciting and inviting urban landscape that promotes public environmental stewardship in the heart of Ann Arbor.