Since the conclusion of the investigative phase of work on the Capitol Restoration Project, the interior and exterior teams have been diligently preparing to take the next step — major construction activity after the legislative session concludes. In order to get to that point, the teams have been crunching numbers and analyzing market conditions to determine the probable scope of work for the initial $120 million in funding allocated to the project.

Exterior Team: JE Dunn Construction, ADG Architecture and Treanor Architects

The following items are included in the scope of work:

  • Repointing of mortar joints. There are over 21 miles of mortar joints on the Oklahoma Capitol. Due to the poor condition of the existing mortar, every single joint on the building must be ground out and new mortar must be installed. It is a painstaking and time-consuming process, but it must be done in order to protect the building from water infiltration. The exterior team has tested various mortar types on the building to determine how well they weather Oklahoma’s climate and relate to the limestone.
  • Repair of cracked and damaged stone. There are approximately 240 locations on the Capitol where stone has spalled and must be repaired. This process, Dutchman repair, includes cutting out the damaged area and replacing it with a new piece of stone. Stainless steel anchors will also be installed. When complete, the repair is barely visible to the naked eye and is certainly unnoticeable at higher elevations.
  • Stone cleaning. The stone at the Capitol exhibits two types of staining.  A biological stain that naturally occurs on limestone over time is particularly evident on the north side of the building. These stains can be abated with a light chemical mixture and water. The other type of stain, typically an orange-brown splotch pattern, is due to a silicone sealer inappropriately applied many years ago. These stains must be abated using a microabrasive process. In some cases, particularly where the staining is heaviest, laser cleaning may be used.
  • Scaffolding. The scaffolding used in a project of this nature is large, intricate and complex. It must allow the stonemasons to get close to all areas of the building’s exterior in varying weather conditions.
  • Windows. Upon cursory investigation, it was feared the windows would have to be completely ripped out and replaced. Additional investigation revealed the windows can be restored in place with a storm window placed on the inside to seal the building from air seepage. This finding alone saved the state approximately $10 million. The windows have been regarded as a bubble item. JE Dunn saved approximately $5 million of their $25 million allotment to potentially include the windows. Due to additional bond proceeds being generated because they were sold at a premium, the state is reasonably confident the windows can be moved into the funded scope of work, provided the estimated repair costs bear out in the market.

Interior Team: Manhattan Construction, FSB Architecture, Rosin Preservation and Stephen Kelley Preservation

On Feb. 11, the State Capitol Repair Expenditure Oversight Committee unanimously approved the following scope of work:

  • Repair and replacement of backbone infrastructure. The electrical, mechanical, plumbing and HVAC systems will be repaired or replaced in the basement and throughout the core of the building to the sixth floor. With current funding levels, the tenant spaces in the wings of the building would not be addressed. However, with the core infrastructure improvements in place, future work in the tenant spaces can easily be tied in.
  • Life safety. New fire alarm and fire sprinkler systems will be added in the building’s basement and the public spaces. Many of these spaces have never had fire safety equipment.
  • Climate control in rotunda and public spaces. For the first time, the rotunda and public spaces of the building will be air-conditioned and heated. This a major improvement for visitors and employees, and the Capitol’s priceless collection of unique artwork will be protected in a stable environment for years to come.
  • Public restrooms. The public restrooms will be upgraded with new plumbing and fixtures and made compliant to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Elevators. The current elevators and motors are obsolete. In fact, when a part breaks on an elevator at the Capitol, it has to be fabricated or procured from a similar elevator as new parts are not manufactured anymore. Three of the four elevator shafts in the building will be expanded, allowing for more efficient movement throughout the building. Additionally, one of the elevators will become a true freight elevator, allowing tables and chairs to be stored in the basement, instead of in the historic corridors. There is a life safety component in the new freight elevator as well.  After its addition, a gurney will be able to fit into the car, whereas currently, one cannot be accommodated.
  • Natural gas service. For the first time, natural gas service will be added. Natural gas will feed the emergency power generators, which the Capitol does not currently have, and the heat pumps used for climate control in the rotunda and public spaces, resulting in greater energy efficiency.
  • Secured public access. The vast majority of the public currently enters the building through an egress door on the southeast corner of the Capitol that was never intended to be an entrance point. There is a single security station at the entrance. During busy times at the Capitol, lines become very long, and the open doors allow any conditioned air to leave the building. To allow for better security, better visitor access experience and energy efficiency, a new visitor entrance will be constructed at the southeast corner of the building. This entrance will allow visitors to enter at the basement level, and it ties into the existing pedestrian tunnel. This functional enhancement satisfies several goals established by the oversight committee and results in a much better first impression for visitors entering the building.
  • Secured public access level. The basement will be completely gutted due to the amount of work that must be done to replace and repair the backbone infrastructure.  This will allow the interior team the ability to reconfigure the basement in a manner that makes the most sense for current and future use of the building. The basement will become the visitor level with all of the amenities that a visitor to the building might need: enlarged restroom bank, visitor center, information kiosk, meeting rooms, expanded snack bar, exhibition space, etc. Some of these items may be funded in the future, but current work will easily allow for the proper additions later.

This exterior and interior scope of work will set the Capitol on a good footing for the future. While there is much more work that needs to be done, this scope sets the stage for those improvements when additional funding becomes available.

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