Capitol Restoration Update
Our crews have been busy throughout the Fall and into the new year wrapping up critical tasks. Here’s the latest progress update on the Capitol Restoration Project:
Our stone and restoration crews are currently working on the twelfth and final exterior elevation of the building. They are making the last of the stone repairs, finishing up the stone cleaning, and adding the final round of repointing mortar to the joints. The window restoration team is in the process of adding glass into the last few windows. For those windows that have received glass, the teams are working on the interior to add the storm windows and repair the walls around the windows. The windows will then be spray tested with water to ensure they are sealed properly. The scaffolding on this final elevation of the building is scheduled to come down in April, marking the end of almost three years of intense restoration of the building’s exterior skin.
In January, a substantial amount of work was wrapped up in the area around the Capitol’s historic main entrance. Crews finished installing new mortar between the granite stair treads and then installed the new lighted handrails. The installation of the new access doors behind the large steel pocket doors was also completed. The newly restored historic main entrance looked great during the inaugural ceremony on January 14th and was a source of pride for our incredible tradespeople.
Late last year, exterior light fixtures were reinstalled at the Capitol. The fixtures underwent a meticulous restoration process in St. Louis for over a year. In addition to being repaired and cleaned, they were rewired with LED lighting.
Logistically, one of the most difficult aspects of the exterior restoration was waterproofing the underground pedestrian tunnel that goes from the Capitol across Lincoln to the east parking lot. The entire structure had to be excavated, so that old waterproofing material could be removed and new material added. Along the way, the team encountered oil seepage and abandoned well heads left over from the old Oklahoma City oilfield. The contractor worked with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to ensure the contaminated soil was disposed of properly. Since the tunnel exists underneath Lincoln Boulevard, the street had to be diverted around the construction activity while waterproofing at that section of the tunnel was completed. The work was finished in early January. The tunnel will reopen in Summer 2020 once the new visitor entry to the Capitol is completed.
Currently, our crews are in the process of installing new exterior doors at all of the Capitol’s entrances and exits. The old doors were warped, rusted, and in some cases, inoperable. The new doors have been manufactured to resemble the historic look of the original doors. The exterior team is also in the process of replacing the copper roof on the Capitol. They are currently engaged on the north and south wings of the building. They will move to the east and west wings later this year. The new roof is scheduled to be fully installed by March 2020.
Finally, work has started on repairing the concrete sitework around the Capitol. Construction personnel are removing and replacing old retaining walls, installing new sump pumps in the lightwells, and installing new concrete mow strips around the building. Concrete replacement has also started on the east plaza and will take place at the north plaza next month.
In mid-January, the interior restoration team wrapped up restoration of the Senate’s fourth and fifth floor east wing offices. The offices now contain new electrical wiring, new data cabling, new plumbing, and new HVAC units. The asbestos has been completely removed. For the first time in that area, a fire sprinkler system has been installed along with a modern fire alarm system. For security, new cameras have been mounted and a new access control system has been placed on selected doors. In the Senate corridors, visitors to the Capitol may notice the ashlar paint pattern that has been applied to the walls. As discussed here, the look of the Capitol will be transformed over the next few years based on analysis and research from Evergreene Architectural Arts. Along with the Senate’s offices, the Legislative Service Bureau office suite was completed on the first floor.
On the Ground Floor, the food service area in the north wing is nearing completion. The new food service area will have a dining room capable of seating 60-80 people. Slated to open on March 4th, the food will continue to be provided by the fine people at the Health Nut Cafe. The new food service area will not only be a great place to eat breakfast or lunch, but it will also serve as a gathering place in the Capitol. Soft seating with charging stations will be available and the dining area will be open even when the kitchen is closed. Wifi will be available as well. The Ground Floor north wing will also have two privacy rooms available to nursing mothers who are visiting or working in the building.
In 2019, the interior team will be tackling a great deal of work. First up, is the restoration of the Governor’s office suite and the Supreme Court. The Governor’s suite will receive the same infrastructure upgrades (plumbing, electrical, HVAC, life safety, asbestos abatement, etc.) as every other area of the building. Some areas in the suite will be reconfigured to allocate space more efficiently. One of the biggest changes will be the addition of an elevator in the back of the suite to provide secure access and egress for the governor. Much of the work in the Supreme Court will center on restoring the finishes in the courtroom. Perhaps the biggest change that visitors will notice is the installation of new light fixtures that will be replicas of those originally in the courtroom.
The project that many on the interior team have had circled on their calendars for a long time is the kickoff of the visitor entry. On February 4th, crews began the excavation process for the visitor entry, which includes demolition of the underground pedestrian tunnel in that area. Once completed, the pedestrian tunnel will tie into the new visitor entry, resulting in a single access point for visitors parking in both the south and east parking lots. The entry point will provide ease of access for people coming to the Capitol as well as be much more welcoming than the current entry area on the first floor. Once inside the doors, two security stations will result in a faster process for screening people. The new visitor entry is scheduled for completion in Summer 2020.
Other upcoming areas of construction in the Capitol are the visitor center, east wing corridor and security area, House office space, the Treasurer’s office suite, Lt. Governor’s office suite, Senate office space, public restrooms, and the Blue Room.