Capitol Restoration Update
At the conclusion of the legislative session in May, Capitol construction activity significantly accelerated. A quick walk around the building and its corridors reveals a beehive of activity dedicated to restoring the People’s House.
A couple weeks after the conclusion of session, crews began tearing out the ceilings in several House member offices on the fifth floor. This work allows for the installation of large steel beams to serve as a support structure for the large air handling units that will be placed on the roof just above those offices in the next few weeks. A key aspect to bringing the Capitol into the 21st century is conditioning of all of the public spaces throughout the building’s core. The units will be brought online in stages over the next couple of years as ductwork and air vents are installed.
There are two tenant areas of the Capitol currently under construction. Asbestos has been abated and demolition is complete in a small office area used by the Senate on the sixth floor. This area is scheduled to be finished in the spring. Once finished, it will provide flexible space for the Senate during construction of member offices on the fourth and fifth floors during the next legislative interim. The Secretary of State’s new space on the first floor is coming along nicely and should be finished around Thanksgiving.
The west corridor of the basement (soon to be renamed the Ground Floor) has seen significant progress over the past few months. All of the remaining telephone and data lines were relocated, which allowed for framing work to begin on the ceiling. Sheetrock has been installed on the walls and replicas of the historic door frames have been set into place. Even today, in this “work in progress” condition, it’s not hard to imagine the beautiful corridor that is taking shape. More importantly, as with any area under construction, once it is complete, it will have brand new plumbing, electrical, life safety and other critical infrastructure upgrades necessary for a modern building.
One of the major areas currently under construction in the basement is the new electrical room for the building. Over the past few months, massive pieces of new electrical switch gear equipment have been placed. Over 72,000 pounds of new wiring have been installed from the connection vault to the electrical room. In October, the process of bringing down the old electrical switch gear will start with a 10-day power outage throughout the Capitol. Once that work is complete, a major milestone in bringing the building infrastructure into the 21st century will be achieved.
Those who frequent the Capitol will be pleased to know that the basement west corridor, southwest elevator and fitness center will return in January. Once completed, construction will shift to the north wing of the basement and the northwest elevator will be taken down.
The exterior façade restoration of the north wing of the Capitol is now complete. That means:
- Damaged stone has been repaired or replaced.
- New mortar has been installed in all stone joints.
- The stone façade has been cleaned.
- New gutters have been constructed.
- New roofing has been installed behind the parapet walls.
- The windows have been restored and repainted.
- Lightning protection has been reinstalled.
With the north wing’s completion, the scaffolding previously located there has been moved to the south wing.
Despite the presence of scaffolding, the southeast door remains open and a tunnel has been constructed to shield visitors from work going on above. As work finishes up on the north side of the east wing, scaffolding will be constructed on the south side of the east wing.
On the south side of the Capitol is the building’s historic main entrance. With the completion of scaffolding over that entrance our stonemasons and experts will begin addressing an area that has been a problem for many years. Before the restoration project started, yellow barricades were set up to block access to the south portico based on previous findings of stone chunks that had spalled off the building and posed a threat to those below. There is quite a bit of water damage to the stone, and many of the joints have been deficient of mortar for quite some time. Repairing the badly damaged stone and mortar joints will be the first step in realizing the goal of utilizing this historic entry point into the Capitol once again.
In addition to addressing the stone issues on the south façade, all of the decorative cast iron at the building’s entrance will be repaired and repainted. This process is similar to the repair process utilized on the historic cast iron and steel windows. Of great excitement to the restoration team is the opportunity to restore the beautiful, 18-foot tall, steel pocket doors and render them operable once again. It has been over 20 years since the doors were in working condition.
Overall, we are still on schedule to conclude the restoration of all 12 exterior elevations on the State Capitol by March 2019.