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Oklahoma Capitol Being Restored

The Oklahoma Capitol will be a construction zone for the next six years as extensive work brings the building back to its full glory.
Oklahoma Capitol Being Restored

Oklahoma Capitol Being Restored

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Oklahoma Capitol Restoration Project

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Show 1646: Oklahoma Capitol Being Restored
Air Date: November 13, 2016



Rob McClendon: Well, Oklahoma’s state Capitol is now a full time construction zone. Restoration work that began in 2015 and will continue for the next six years has the Capitol looking a bit different these days with scaffolding now surrounding parts of the exterior.

Josh Martin: We’re pleased to announce that we’ve started the exterior portion of the work on the Capitol renovation project for the great state of Oklahoma. Over the course of the last 18 months, we’ve done extensive design and investigation work to bring the building back to her full glory. The main purpose of this project is to ensure that this building is ready to last productively another 50 to 100 years.

Steve Mason: Recently the building has been in very sad shape from the sewer, the elevators to the windows, and just the building was falling down and leaky roofs.

Martin: When this process started, one of the discussions we had was do we move the legislature and all, the governor and everyone, out of here for several years. And we came up with a method to keep them in here and move them around a bit which actually saved about $7 million.

Mason: In 18 months, we’ve moved quickly, we’re on budget, we’re ahead of schedule, and we have really not had any surprises yet. There’s been enough investigation in this first 18 months that we understand the project.

Martin: There’s three major items that we’ll be working around on the projects. First of all, if you look closely around the building, you’ll notice that the stone is cracked and spalled in multiple locations and that the grout joints between the stone is coming out all over the place. This is important because it allows water into the building which is what we don’t want to happen. So we will touch every square inch of this building repair those stones, repair the grout and mortar, and do a general cleaning on the overall surface. The second major portion of the work is the window replacement. So all of these existing windows, there’s 477 of them, will be removed from the building, taken, restored back to their original beauty, put back in place and put back in service. Additionally, with regards to the water intrusion that’s in the building, there’s a guttering system that will we installed up on the roof, and basically our mission here is to make sure that this building doesn’t leak and that the people’s house is in proper working order. If you look behind me, the scaffold that we’re constructing is really the key piece of equipment that we need in order to perform this work. So what you’ll see over the course of the next three years is scaffolding systems being built around the building. After the scaffold goes up, the next thing you’ll see is, we’ll put a large tarp over this scaffold, and what we’re doing is we’re enclosing that work area. The reason we need to do that is, the materials that we use to make the repairs are temperature sensitive, so we want to keep the temperature inside that scaffold between 50 and 90 degrees at all times. It’s easy in March and April, it’s hard in June and July, so that scaffolded area will actually be air conditioned or heated, depending on what time of year it is.

Roger Thompson: The legislature established the bond oversight committee so that we could work together with private citizens, with representatives, with senators and say, hey, we’re making sure every dime is being spent the way it’s supposed to be spent, and we’re not spending more than we need to spend. We’re dealing here with a part of history that is going to last for years and years to come that is actually not only the seat of government, but it’s also the seat of who Oklahoma really is. But today’s a super cool day. I mean the scaffolding is going up. We’re going to work. Three years, the outside is going to be done. In six years, the inside is going to be done. It’s a cool time to be here.

Rob: And it’s not just the exterior that’s under restoration. On the inside of the Capitol, demolition began this fall in the basement where major infrastructure and utility work is under way.

Andrea Gossard: Between now and the end of the year, we’re basically looking to get the basement 100 percent cleared out. We’re going to shift the traffic from this main west corridor. We’re actually going to take it to the north side of the building here in the basement, so the traffic pattern is going to change a little bit. Right now we’re roughly three to four weeks ahead of schedule. Basically we want by the first of the year to be in a position where we can start putting back all the new primary installations. But really, it’s just kind of opening up the new traffic pattern and preparing for the next session so that everything is kind of set and the people understand how they get around in the building. So that’s really what we’re focused on for the next couple of months. Just on the other side of this wall is the maintenance access, the loading dock access, readying the major material deliveries. On Saturday, we’re actually going to set up and cut the walls in, and then we’ll actually tip out the remaining portions of the concrete that are left behind after the cuts. With this being the main corridor for pedestrians from the west entry, we’ve created a corridor here for everybody to walk through similar to the existing west corridor, although that’s going to go away. We’re going to route everybody over here. What we’ve done is, we’ve installed these windows, just kind of so everybody can take a peek into the construction area. After we reroute traffic here to the north corridor, that wall will actually be demolished so you’ll be able to see from this point all the way to the south end of the building. And hopefully it will give everybody an idea of what we’re doing on a daily basis. Things change quickly around here, so just a little window into the construction world, and everybody can take a peek as they come in every day.

Rob: The Oklahoma Capitol Restoration Project has its own website and Facebook page which we do have links to at