Pennsylvania State Capitol’s East Wing to Undergo Major Renovation: An Investment in Accessibility and Energy Efficiency

State Capitol's East WingCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

HARRISBURG, PA — the Pennsylvania Department of General Services (DGS) recently announced a major renovation project for the East Wing of the State Capitol building. The renovation, which is slated to begin in July 2024 and complete by August 2025, will cost an estimated $3-$4 million.

The comprehensive upgrade plan includes replacing the existing escalators with a grand staircase, installing a large ADA-compliant group elevator, improving rotunda lighting, and overhauling the cafeteria’s ceiling, lighting, and HVAC systems.

This transformational project represents a significant investment in the future of the Commonwealth’s iconic Capitol building. It aims to create a safer, more efficient flow of traffic from the East Wing to the rest of the Capitol building while saving money in the long run.

A key part of the renovation is the replacement of the existing escalators, which have been prone to frequent failures, with a grand staircase. This move alone will save the Commonwealth substantial funds by eliminating the annual costs of escalator maintenance and equipment upgrades, which amounted to nearly $250,000 over the past five years.

The new staircase, rising gradually from the East Wing concourse to the first floor of the Capitol, will include an intermediate landing installed after the large elevator is operational. Besides being aesthetically pleasing, it will provide a safer, more reliable evacuation route in emergencies.

To ensure uninterrupted access to the East Wing concourse and the first floor of the Capitol during construction, a large group elevator capable of holding up to 20 people will be installed prior to the removal of the escalators. This elevator will replace the existing spiral staircase on the South side of the East Wing rotunda.

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Other improvements in the pipeline include upgraded cafeteria facilities, featuring a modernized ceiling, LED lighting fixtures, and an improved HVAC system for better indoor environment control. The dishwasher exhaust fan and ductwork will also be replaced.

A highlight of the renovation project is the upgrade of the rotunda lighting. The existing, nonfunctional neon lighting system will be replaced with a modern, energy-efficient LED system. This new system will not only save energy but also offer the flexibility to change the lighting color for special events under the rotunda.

The renovation project aims to create accessible, energy-efficient spaces while preserving the historical integrity of its landmarks. As we move forward into a future marked by sustainability and inclusivity, this investment in the State Capitol serves as a shining example of progress.

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