Politics & Government

State-hired crews return to Capitol to finish three-year repair, cleaning job on stonework

Repairs and cleaning on the state Legislative Building’s sandstone exterior is entering another phase this fall in Olympia at a cost of $1 million.

“It’s not just cleaning, but also mortar repair,” said Jim Erskine, spokesman for the Department of Enterprise Services, which manages state-owned properties and oversees the repair work done by its architectural and masonry contractors. “This is the third phase. Two summers ago we were starting at the top and working down. Last year we did some of the work still up high but we also did some of the work on the north stairs.”

Previous repairs removed dirt, lichen and moss that blackened many areas of the Capitol’s stonework. The organic growth, which can weaken joints and cause leaks, accumulated for eight years on the massive dome and lower areas of the building during the Great Recession years when penny pinching led to delays in maintenance. Previously the cleaning was done roughly every five years.

This round of work will repair mortar joints around the Legislative Building’s four mini-domes and below the large dome that defines the structure, as well as restore four historic skylights that are deteriorating and have leaks. The contractor is also scheduled to remove stone pavers on the building’s exterior plaza, allowing repairs to waterproofing and replacement of drain assemblies.

Contractor Western Waterproofing Co. of Renton won the latest contract bid, having also done the first phase of work. D&R Masonry won the bid for the second phase a year ago. The previous jobs covered the upper two-thirds of the Capitol structure as well as adding weatherproofing under the building’s north-side steps, which had seeped water into an underground garage in the same way the plaza is leaking.

The total cost of the first two phases was about $2.4 million, according to Enterprise Services.

Jordan Friedberg, the property manager at Enterprise Services responsible for structures including the domed Legislative Building, said that the contractor will complete as much of the repair and cleaning as funds allow, and that additional work could be needed.

“We’re starting with the most critical repairs which trend toward water intrusion … For the preservation of the building, it’s better to start with these other repairs and do the pressure washing last,” he said. “We’re not able to do everything.”

The goal is to complete the job in November — certainly before lawmakers return in January.

SHKS Architects surveyed the building in 2011 as the state geared up for its multi-phase project, which is aimed at stopping leaks that caused water stains to interior walls. The Seattle-based company designed repairs for the latest restoration work, and its website says the exterior Wilkeson sandstone veneer can be damaged by moss growth and water penetrating the soft stone.

The project is one of two that may cause noise on the Capitol campus. The stonework work is being done while other contractor teams repair and replace underground utility lines underneath Sid Snyder Way on the southern edge of the Capitol campus.

The latter project is budgeted at $1.55 million. It began in August and has closed Sid Snyder Way, one of two major entry routes to the west campus. Trenches have been dug to allow replacement of utility lines.

DES says the construction is expected to run into November. It includes repaving, new sidewalks and landscaping, and a drainage system that will clean and filter rain runoff before discharging it into Capitol Lake.