Although its dome currently is shrouded in plastic for ongoing repairs, enhanced exterior lighting is in the works for the state Capitol, after the Capitol Building Commission Wednesday approved plans for the new system.
“The architecture of this place is unique and one of a kind, and we need to show it off to its best appearance,” General Services Division Director Greg Melton told the commission.
Melton said the current lighting system, installed in the 1970s, is prone to failures, is not energy efficient and results in glaring in some areas, with other areas dimly lit.
He said plans are to replace the metal halide and high-pressure sodium bulbs with modern LED lighting.
The current system, consisting of flood lights atop metal poles, would be replaced with LED lighting concealed within the Capitol building, as well with LED facade lighting built into in-ground conduits around the base of the building.
Asked if the new system will be capable of displaying colors, as seen on buildings such as the Empire State Building, which lights up in colors for holidays and special occasions, Melton said that will depend on cost.
“We’re thinking about it, and we intend to cost it out,” he said.
He said the division will look at including color capabilities as an alternative bid option, particularly for lighting the drum of the Capitol dome.
“We will come back to the CBC if we decide to go with an enhanced lighting package,” Melton said.
Melton said the project will also entail lighting for statuary on the Capitol grounds. Currently, only the “Lincoln Walks at Midnight” statue at the front of the Capitol is lighted.
Also Wednesday, the Capitol Building Commission approved plans to:
n Restore the front plaza around the Lincoln statue, repairing limestone stairs and landings, repairing fountains, and replacing brick pavers with stamped concrete pavers.
n Renovate 11 Capitol restrooms, including seven that are in areas of the Capitol under the jurisdiction of the House of Delegates.
The project will include replacing all plumbing and fixtures in the restrooms, most of which date back to the original construction of the Capitol.
On the third floor, the project will include swapping a men’s room near the House Finance Committee with a women’s room near House Judiciary in order to create an ADA-accessible women’s restroom on the third floor. Currently, there is an ADA compliant men’s restroom on the Senate side of that floor.
Cost was not discussed Wednesday. However, a 2017 contract to renovate eight restrooms under the Senate’s purview cost $860,000. In 2012, the GSD put out bids to renovate all 34 public restrooms in the Capitol, but never awarded the contract after the low bid of $9.4 million came in $3.4 million over budget.
n Make permanent repairs to internal partition clay tile walls throughout the Capitol building.
Originally installed as firewalls, engineers last fall discovered that many of the tiles were breaking loose, presenting a safety hazard that forced the evacuation of several offices and storage rooms, and the closure of several stairwells while temporary repairs were made.