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Richard Piatt ReportingUtah's old State Capitol building is off limits right now. The familiar dome is covered with scaffolding and plastic, and that's just on the outside. Government Reporter Richard Piatt takes us inside for a unique update on the project.
Today the Capitol Rotunda is filled with scaffolding and protective wood over the marble. Most sections of the old Capitol building have been gutted, like the entire floor below the rotunda. It's all part of a 200-million dollar restoration and earthquake retrofit to the Capitol. That reinforcing process is already taking shape in the basement, where new footings are being drilled out and installed.
David Hart, Capitol Preservation Board: "We're taking out all the footings and foundations, putting in new footings and foundations, and a lot of the columns will have new concrete as well."
Capitol Preservation's David Hart is overseeing the project. He wants to both protect the building from earthquakes, and restore it to its original 1914 splendor along the way.
David Hart: "When they come back to the building, they'll not only come back to a fully restored building, they'll come back to a building that's modern in every way."
Tours of the Capitol used to be easy to get---these days it's an invitation only event because the whole building is a construction zone.
Offices are nothing more than scraps of metal. Wires hang from the ceiling. Familiar frames of reference are hard to come by. In the Senate there is very little to remind you of the place where the Senate debated and voted on bills for so long.
How many emotional hearings took place in rooms 303 and 305? They're just a memory now. In fact, you have to look hard to see anything recognizable at all.
A major part of this project is preserving the artwork. Four stories up from the rotunda we can actually see a painting of Brigham Young, the painting was actually done off site, the canvas cut to fit the configuration of the rotunda, then nailed up.
Skylights will be restored. Brick walls will be removed and replaced with reinforced material. And in four years or so, the Capitol will become a familiar and safer place.
Outside, the Capitol grounds are also torn up and unrecognizable. But the preservation people assure us there will be new landscaping and dozens of new trees to replace what was there.