Judge Breyer's Beantown Palace

Supreme Court nominee Stephen Breyer may someday pen monumental decisions. But already he has created a more tangible monument. As chief judge of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, Breyer was heavily involved in planning a lavish new waterfront courthouse, one of the costliest federal courthouses ever. In four years, the I.M. Pei-designed structure's price has soared 34%, to $218 million, or $285 per square foot--triple the average cost for state and local courthouses. Construction is to start this winter.

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