Oklahoma’s unique art, symbolism and heritage are interwoven in this one-of-a-kind Capitol restoration project.
Oklahoma boasts one of the most unusual and intriguing histories of any American state, and this special heritage will be celebrated and preserved for future generations through FSB’s restoration of the Oklahoma State Capitol Building. A companion project to FSB’s successful design and placement of a dome on top of the Capitol Building in 2002, the interior restoration provides badly-needed mechanical system upgrades, space reallocation, structural repairs and cosmetic improvements to the decaying structure, which was originally completed in 1917. For this one-of-a-kind design-build project, FSB is partnering once more with Manhattan Construction.
FSB’s exceptional ability to work hand-in-hand with multiple user groups and ascertain all details of a project up front was a huge asset in this multi-phase, extremely intricate project. Referencing old drawings obtained from state archives, private sources and the U.S. Library of Congress, along with documents from previous partial renovations, our team first conducted a thorough on-site review of the building’s engineering systems. These were found to be severely inadequate and outdated. In many instances, the original plumbing and electrical wiring were still in place, both of them dangerously decayed, while the HVAC, fire protection and additional systems also needed to be replaced and brought into compliance with modern safety and performance standards.
The most significant change to the structure will be transformation of the lower level into the primary public entrance, where visitors will step into an expanded and completely redesigned Capitol museum. The museum will include 18 rotating art exhibition areas, located within designated North, East and Governor’s galleries. Each gallery features an element from Oklahoma’s state flag, whose symbols celebrate the high ideals and peace between its Native American and European settlers. Exhibit areas will provide a place to showcase works by Oklahoma artists. Relocating the main entrance to the lower level also alleviates a major irritant for visitors, as the existing public entrance is small, not easily accessible for people with disabilities, and often creates a bottleneck. New legislative offices and conference rooms have already resulted in a more efficient layout for office space and an enhanced functional ability for its employees. Once completed, the restoration will re-purpose and modernize approximately 650 offices, along with the Oklahoma House and Senate legislative chambers.
Multiple phases of the project are required, due to the sheer scope and complexity of the restoration, as well as the need to make repairs with minimal disruption for the state employees and elected officials who work inside the building. After the initial assessment, our team created a BIM model, which is being used throughout the project as a guide for the myriad of fixes that must be accomplished, along with master planning to delineate the complete vision. By creating a plan which did not require relocating employees to other buildings, FSB is saving the state approximately $7 million in leasing costs.
As one of Oklahoma’s top tourist attractions, the Capitol Building hosts tens of thousands of visitors each year. Once the restoration is completed, it’s anticipated that it will become an even more popular destination, as well a source of pride for generations of Oklahomans to come.