Restoration of the Exterior of the Nebraska State Capitol
Fifteen year Exterior restoration performed in conjunction with Bahr Vermeer & Haecker Architects in Lincoln Nebraska.
The Nebraska State Capitol (1922-1932) is a 400-foot tall monument that is the swansong of Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue. A result of a national design competition, the building follows Beaux-Arts design tenets with a distinctly American vocabulary and melds the traditional domed capitol building with the post-World War I skyscraper. Its exterior restoration was a focus of immense pride for Nebraska, and our work became an endeavor of a lifetime as we continued a legacy of skilled construction begun by the sons of the pioneers. After a comprehensive diagnosis and project planning process a phased approach was systematically followed that began in 1996 and lasted 15 years. Cleverly designed scaffolding enveloped the tower and afforded us access to the work. Mold and mildew growths on facades are still mistakenly treated as soiling, and, therefore, inappropriate and ineffective treatments are used to remove them. Amethodical biocide treatment was performed on the façade based on testing that was previously performed at the Kentucky State Capitol. Façade cleaning was performed separately using a dry abrasive technique that I had introduced into the United States for work at the Chicago Tribune. The mixing of a steel skyscraper frame with a masonry bearing wall and the use of overly hard mortar, conscious intentions of the builders posed challenges for the restoration. Horizontal expansion joints were introduced at each level of the façade, and a variety of corrosion mitigating treatments was employed.Isolated building elements were taken apart and reconstructed to remove brick masonry back up components that were swelling and breaking the limestone cladding. Finally the more than two acres of copper flat and standing seam copper roofs were replaced and included design improvements: doubling the number of drains; increasing slopes; and adopting batten seam rather than standing seam. Kelley managed this project while at WJE.