The Estes Kefauver federal building on Broadway has barely changed since it opened in 1957.
It has the same exterior, same interior.
As the Middle Tennessee district grew, judges say the courthouse is too cramped.
It was at the top of a list of courthouses with the immediate need of being replaced.
A new building was designed, then came a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that said the project "does not qualify" for funds under the capital planning process, and that the current federal building will suffice.
Judges said the building needs upgrading for several reasons.
It needs more courtrooms along with separate elevators and hallways for prisoners.
In a statement, Federal Judge William Haynes said, "Armed guards accompanying prisoners in chains must use the same public hallways that judges, employees and the public utilize."
The new report said the courthouse has enough courtrooms for the number of judges it has, but judges said one of the biggest problems is an alley behind the courthouse.
A parking lot and L-shaped alley is owned by First Lutheran Church and is a public area.
In light of what happened in Waco and 9/11, Judge Haynes cites this as a security risk.
The government acquired property at the corner of 8th and Church about 11 years ago with plans to put a new courthouse on it.