The politicians won’t defend the renovations of the West Wing of the State Capitol, but an architects’ group will. The American Institute of Architects, Illinois Council, believes the criticism of the Capitol renovations is misplaced. “The project was used as kind of a proxy for what people feel about politicians, sort of like the approval rating. Nobody likes politicians nowadays, they know that state government’s got a lot of problems, so here’s a case where they’ve spent money publicly, it’s easy to identify with it and say that’s wrong when I have other things that I’d like you to spend the money on, and so that has become a lightning rod,” executive director Mike Waldinger said.
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The governor and some candidates for governor criticized the decorative flourishes that were part of the project, such as doors, chandeliers and statues that combined cost $1 million. Waldinger says it was sound planning to do the historical touches while the place was torn apart for needed upgrades, and he says the architect delivered “beautifully” for the client.