Welcome to the Capitol Preservation Board Blog on the Executive Office Building.

With the Utah State Capitol Base Isolation and Renovation complete the Board has requested the Executive Director to move forward with studying phase five of the master plan – The Executive Office Building.

This blog will provide current information on the study as it progresses.

Friday, May 29, 2009


The final day of the workshop began with a discussion of cost. The project definition team discussed the cost magnitudes associated with each of the schemes which the previous two workshop days identified as possible alternatives. These cost estimates were very soft and provided a general understanding of cost. These estimates allowed the working group to discuss the place value of the Capitol Campus. During the discussion the concept that the Capitol Campus is an island within a neighborhood continued to be revisited. It was clear that every individual at the table felt strongly that the campus identity had to be maintained and that while the option 1 – Restore was the least expensive option presented it was not an acceptable solution because it did not address the compatibility and materiality of the Capitol Campus as place. This was also true with regard to the option 1b – Restore with a modern skin which was only an incremental increase from a concrete exterior panel to a 3 cm granite panel for the exterior enclosure.

The most interesting comparison was between option 1c – Restore with a classical skin and the option 3 – New building. This discussion recognized the cost increase from 3 cm stone panels in option 1b to cubic stone elements on the option 1c due to the classical architecture applied to the existing building. What was surprising was the relative closeness in the projected cost of option 3 to that of option 1c. It was also the best comparison of the cost differential between remodeling and building a new building which was approximately 8% increase based upon the provided numbers. This was attributed to the cost of structure and foundations. Yet it was clear that with the new building operational efficiency was increased and the sense of place was preserved.

Option 2 – Remodel and add additional space was the most expensive option of the five that were studied. This had to do with the addition of 150,000 GSF to the existing 171,000 GSF of the current state office building. On top of that it was also the only scheme that would have required additional parking of approximately 150 cars which is a major impact to the site as well as the cost.

After much discussion the unanimous decision that was reached was to proceed from this point only with option 3 – New building. The reasons provided were all focused around three very important concepts which were:
1. Context – the Capitol Preservation Board with the development of the Senate and House buildings and central plaza directly behind the restored capitol has developed a sense of place that no one wanted to see changed. In fact everyone wanted to see this sense of place, the island if you will reinforced. Materials, proportion, height and classical details were all critical to the accomplishment of the context of place. It was felt that using the bones of the existing building would severely limit the ability to maintain and reinforce the sense of place that is so important.
2. Space utilization – the existing building has a narrow floor plate that is very difficult to work around. The need of the modern working environment needs to be flexible to allow for all the demands that are placed upon the state. To maintain a facility that does not provide for the proper use of space limits in the long term the efficiency of the state. It was felt that the money would be better spent providing a more flexible open office environment in a new building than trying to fit functions into a non flexible existing frame.
3. The long view – the group recognized that a new building will be more difficult to fund during the current economic environment that we find ourselves in today. However, they all agreed that it is better to look to the future and to do the right thing for the long view rather than be short sighted and rush to do that which will improve the visual aesthetics of the campus will limit for the long run the usefulness of the building. It was better to build for 100 years than to rush the process. With that said they all want to see the process continue and not lose momentum as the state works through the economic issues.

Based upon this discuss without asking them to review the current CPB master plan they reconfirmed that it should in fact be completed.

During further discussion the workshop group did want to see the north side of the site improved. The concept of the pond and the axial termination was very important to them to retain and complete the context and sense of place that is found on Capitol Hill.

With this recommendation made they suggested that the project definition team continue to study a new building that would contain and achieve the following:
1. Building size – the site caring capacity is limited by parking and land. The group felt that over building was not as important as building the right size for the site, and that maximizing the square footage was less important. The following guidelines were provided that the new building should be no:
a. Longer than that of the capitol in the east west direction.
b. Wider than the base of the capitol in the north south direction
c. Taller than four stories in height above the plaza, in order to act as a backdrop to the plaza and to provide the proper level of containment for the plaza.
2. Classical Design – the group directed the project definition team to study a classical ionic design that would be compatible in material and aesthesis with the campus.
3. Program – must include at a minimum:
a. Flexible open office space
b. 200 to 300 seat auditorium
c. Technology such a video conference rooms
d. Executive Directors office suite/meeting space
e. Parking for Executive Directors
4. Energy Efficiency – conform to the new LEED standards

In addition to these items the workshop group suggested that the executive director begin to develop improvement projects to take care of several critical and important problems associated with the exiting building. These included but were not limited to:
1. Improved energy – study all energy related savings options. Those that have a pay back of 5 to 7 years should be advanced and completed. Projects beyond 10 years should not be considered since the life of the building should not be expected to go beyond that time frame.
2. Electric switch gear – it was discovered in the workshop that the SOB is in need of new switch gear to avoid a failure.
3. Cladding restraint system – the exiting concrete panels on the exterior of the state office building need to be restrained from falling during an earthquake. A simple strap to catch and hold the panel would be advisable.
4. Fire dampers – several life safety issues exist and fire dampers would solve some of those.
5. Microwave antennas – the microwave system needs to have the fiber look completed and the permanent relocation of the north antenna moved to the traffic operations center.
6. DFCM relationship – work closely with DFCM to move organizations off the hill so that relocation costs of rental space are kept to a minimum.

Master plan recommendations were also discussed and included:
1. A shuttle system from the campus to the inter-modal hub in SLC.
2. A van pool from the capitol the Fair Park during session for employees
3. Van Pool and Car Pool reserved parking stalls near entries – encourage more van/car pooling and less individual cars
4. Investigate once again charging employees and public for parking similar to the university.

This was an excellent workshop. A tremendous amount good work came out of it. Many ideas were clearly discussed and resolved. The executive director would like to thank the workshop group made up of private citizens, state employees, members of the preservation and maintenance subcommittee and member of the budget and board operations subcommittee, who all participated openly and shared their ideas. Also to the project definition team member which included architects, engineers and estimates who provide a great amount of information and lead the discussions without a preconceived outcome. Thank you all.
Over the next several weeks the project definition team and the executive director will prepare information that will be presented to the subcommittee and then ultimately to the board for their discussion and approval.

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