New Capitol dome will shine like a penny, cost a whole lot more

Plans are under way to replace the Capitol’s copper dome.

When complete, the dome will be as shiny as a new penny, but it will cost a whole lot more.

Try $10.3 million.

At a meeting of the Capitol Preservation Committee, Statehouse Architect Barry Greis gave a rundown of progress on the $296 million project to restore, renovate and add new space to the building.

Since the Capitol project started in 2000 at an initial estimate of $90 million, the project has had several expensive add- ons and cost overruns.

Preservation Committee member William “Bill” Wagnon asked why the dome needed to be replaced.

“We can’t stop the leaks,” Greis said. “They are significant.”

Then the committee questioned what the dome — now a patchwork of green blotches — would look like when replaced.

Greis said the new copper would be bright and shiny. Within a month or two, however, the copper will start to oxidize and turn a dull brown. He said it may take 30 years before the copper starts to turn green again.

Committee member Lana Gordon, a Republican legislator from Topeka, asked if the weight of the Ad Astra statue put a strain on the dome. Greis said the statue was well-supported and causing no problem to the roof structure.

Several committee members wanted to know what would happen with the old copper.

Some of it will be sold to a salvage company and some given to the State Historical Society, Greis said. Committee member Carol McDowell said some of the copper should be made into souvenirs and sold to help offset the cost.

The job of taking down the copper and replacing it may start next spring.

By Scott Rothschild

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