Because of a number of building code and safety problems, renovations were ordered for the Illinois State Capitol. Those renovations are almost complete, to the tune of $50 million.
Architect Richard Alsop says it could have cost less, but then they couldn’t restore the building “appropriately.”
“If we didn’t spend time going back to find these patterns, or putting in these lights, it would have been less expensive, but that’s really not the point of this renovation,” Alsop says. “As long as we’re going through that step of moving everybody out, and doing a renovation that’s going to last 100 years, you really should take advantage of the time that you’ve got."
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Funding for this portion of renovations came from the capital construction program.
The Capitol was built 150 years ago and the West Wing is nearing completion. More renovations are coming, particularly in the north and east wings, although when those will be completed is unknown.
A component of the west wing renovation was removal of the mezzanine level that housed offices and the press room. Those levels were built in the mid-20th century to provide more office space, but it wasn't the original design.
Problems may come when contractors try to remove several more mezzanine levels elsewhere, where dozens of lawmakers have offices.
The goal of the renovation is to take the Capitol back to the way it was in the mid to late 1800s. The south wing was renovated several years ago.