by Shay Awosyian | Reporter
Oklahoma’s capitol building has been standing since 1917, but it will undergo its first comprehensive reconstruction starting this summer.
The project that will cost approximately $245 million and will fix key issues inside and outside the building. It’ll take around 30-40 construction workers about three and a half years to fix the exterior. The interior will require around 150 workers or more six years to modernize. Two construction companies will oversee the project.
“Our two construction companies are J.E. Dunn constructions on the exterior and Manhattan construction on the interior,” said project manager Trait Thompson.
Thompson says this project has been a long time coming.
“The capitol has really been in a state of disrepair for at least the past 10 to 15 years and probably longer than that, “ he said. “ The major infrastructure of the building, in plumbing electrical, mechanical, those systems have really started to degrade over the years.
Water has caused the degradation of some of the stones on the exterior, and that’s caused pieces of stones to start popping off the building. It’s caused a safety hazard on the exterior of the building.”
There have been investigations and tests conducted to determine what needs to be repaired. Thompson feels confident that they already know what they have to work on and doesn’t expect any surprises.
“When we finally get up there on the Capitol building, we won’t be guessing, we’ll know exactly what we need to do to fix the problem.”
In addition to making it safer, the project will also update a lot of the capitol’s outdated systems.
“Everything from putting in modern electrical wiring, modern I.T. wiring and cabling, modern plumbing system, a sprinkler system most of the areas of the capital don’t have a sprinkler system in them so just putting in basic fire safety systems is a big part of this project.”
He said this construction is important because the Capitol encompasses everything Oklahoma stands for.
“It’s a symbol of our form of democracy that we have, it’s a symbol of our state, it’s a symbol of our state pride. And so we want to leave this as a legacy for future generations.”
Douglas Kellogg is the Capitol’s Superintendent and he agrees with Thompson.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to take this piece of handiwork that says Oklahoma all over it and turn it into something that’ll be proud of for generations to come,” he said.
During construction, business will go on as usual in the Capitol.
“We’re never going to clear out the building here. This building has to function during the spring for the legislative sessions, this building has to function for people to work in it year round, and so it’s going to be inconvenient.”
Some sections of the building will be closed, there will be more noise and dust than usual, some artworks will be taken down and some of the exhibits will be relocated.
“People have to realize that it won’t be the most convenient thing for the next six years.”
Kellogg and his crew will also have to adjust to the construction, but he isn’t worried because the project will make life more comfortable for them when it’s completed.
“It’s going to affect the way we can work and it’s going to reestablish a lot of things that we are just putting out fires instead of able to correctly maintain the building,’ he said.
The project gives Thompson the thrills because the Capitol is one of a very rare kind.
“It’s a beautiful building. People don’t build like this anymore, no one will ever build like this again.
“We can return it to its original historic condition in many facets, but we can also set it up so that it’s more functional.”
In addition to the major repairs, about $10 million will be spent to replace most of the windows with storm windows. The elevators, restrooms, and public entrance will also be improved.
For more information about the project, visit capitolrestore.ok.gov.
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