Soaring into the skyline like a majestic, shiny penny, the Kansas statehouse copper dome is a glimmering example of sustainability, innovation, and outside-the-box architectural design. The $22 million roof replacement containing approximately 127,000 pounds of copper is the crowning glory of a 13-year basement-to-dome renovation project by the team of Treanor Architects and JE Dunn Construction.
Shortly after the ending of the Civil War, Kansas politicians set out to build a state capitol building that would rival the regal structures of Washington, DC. Nine workers died during construction, which began in 1866 and took over 37 years to complete.
The Sunflower State is very proud of its Topeka-based statehouse, and over 100-years later, legislators were demanding a complete makeover to restore this magnificent structure to its former glory. Their foresight and dedication were well rewarded in 2017 when the Kansas statehouse copper dome project received the 2017 Top Ten Award by the North American Copper in Architecture Awards (NACIA) for copper construction projects of the previous decade.
Kansas statehouse copper dome: Interesting facts
By the 1990s, the once-beautiful statehouse building was falling into a state of disrepair. The limestone foundation and façade were beginning to crumble, and an F5 tornado in the 1960s had peeled away portions of the original copper roof. Meanwhile, the remaining roof sections had transformed into a less-than-appealing dull-green patina. Here are some other interesting facts about the NACIA award-winning renovation project.
- The dome reconstruction contains enough copper to make 2,350,746 pennies.
- The entire copper-clad dome is 21,300 SF.
- Structural surveys of the existing roof took place between 2007 and 2010.
- The head-to-toe renovation project consisted of 29 separate bids.
- All renovations were required to comply with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.
- The 127,000 pounds of copper from the original roof were ultimately recycled for repurposing in the accompanying Visitors Center.
- Below the copper dome exists some 65,250 SF of sheet metal and 752-linear feet of 24-oz copper rib molding.
- The original standing seam copper sections covering the more dramatically slopping sections of the dome’s center were re-clad with 20-oz soldered flat seam copper to enhance waterproof capabilities.
- Circular sections of the base and uppermost sections of the dome were constructed from standing seam 20-oz copper cladding.
- The dome also boasts some 230 linear feet of roof gutter fabricated from 32-oz copper.
- A free-standing tower crane soaring 365 feet into the air was used to deliver the copper and other materials safely to the roof during construction.
- Standing high and proud atop the brilliantly luminous copper dome is a bronze statue of a Kansa Warrior named Ad Astra poised to shoot an arrow pointed directly at the North Star. The statue weighs 4,420 pounds and stands over 22 feet tall.
In addition to the 2017 Top Ten Award, this historic renovation was one of fifteen recipients to win the 2014 NACIA award for architectural copper designs. The Kansas statehouse copper dome is truly a marvelous site to see. And thanks to the creativity and ingenuity of this team of legislators, historians, architects, engineers, and construction managers, the Capitol Dome will remain impressively awe-inspiring for another 100-years and counting.