Best Government/Public Buildings: New York State Capitol Building Restoration

This $48-million project focused on the east quadrant of the historic New York State Capitol building in Albany, a 19th-century structure that took more than 25 years to build and had five architects. Over time, however, the building has undergone various changes and has suffered from severe water infiltration issues.

The project—the culmination of a master plan that began 10 years ago—called for restoring the roof and associated building envelope. Contractors were charged with making repairs and upgrades to return the building to its original glory.

Up to 150 tradespeople, working over two shifts, tackled construction as the building remained operable during two legislative sessions. All noisy, dirty and odorous work had to be performed during off hours, and a third shift was used when needed to avoid conflicts.

Work included repair of some of the oldest, most deteriorated sections of the building—the staircases for the Assembly, which are made of Wallace sandstone, and those of the Senate, made of Coursehill sandstone. It was critical that all replacement stones matched and blended to create a uniform look. The team also restored two historic skylights and decorative art glass laylights located above the staircases. Restoring these allowed natural light to shine on the staircases for the first time in more than seven decades.

Outside, the team replaced and repaired the east roof and facade—among the oldest and most damaged parts of the structure.

In response to a request from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the team accelerated its schedule by 18 months. The project was completed two months ahead of the accelerated schedule—and 20 months ahead of the original deadline—saving taxpayers about $2.4 million.

"This one stood out for quality construction and great craftsmanship," said one Best Projects judge. Others commented on the extra effort made to match new elements and materials to the old design to "bring an old structure into modern times."

New York State Capitol Building Restoration, Albany, N.Y.

Key Players

Owner State of New York, Office of General Services

Construction Manager Gilbane Building Co.

Prime General Contractor Consigli Construction Co.

Architecture Mesick Cohen Wilson Baker Architects LLP

Structural Engineer Clark Engineering & Surveying PC

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