Capitol Renovations Nearly Complete

Aug 26, 2013

Credit Brian Mackey / IPR

In Springfield, the west wing of Illinois' Capitol building is nearing the end of a 50 million dollarrenovation. IPR's Brian Mackey reports on the end of the two-year project.

Workers are putting on the finishing touches. Everywhere you look, you see a balance between modern building requirements and historical details. The door handles are flipper style -- that's easier to use for people with disabilities -- but they're cast with the state seal. There are lighted emergency exit signs, of course, but they're in an old-timey font. The main purpose of the renovation was to address safety concerns -- fire exits were said to be drastically insufficient. But since that would require effectively gutting the space, the decision was made to return it to what architects call the "period of historic significance."

"The period of significance for the building is 1867 to 1908."

Richard Alsop is the architect of the Capitol.

"That's the time period where the original architect -- his design intended for the building -- and any renovations that were done, were either done with the original architect or those who shared his design intent."

The west-wing renovation comes after the House and Senate chambers were re-done several years ago. The architect says the north wing is the next logical step, but there's no timeline for when that might happen.