The West Virginia State Capitol, originally completed in 1932, was designed by Cass Gilbert, architect of the U.S. Supreme Court building, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The steel-framed structure has brick masonry infill and limestone cladding, topped with an iconic 292-foot gold-leafed dome, designed to be seen from every point of view.
The only problem: the Romanesque dome was leaking, causing significant damage to hard-to-reach interior finishes, like the dome’s upper rotunda.
In 2016, engineering firm WDP & Associates was hired by the State of West Virginia General Services Division to investigate the source of the moisture intrusion and recommend repairs. Craftworkers from the BAC Administrative District Council of West Virginia were enlisted to cut test holes and support WDP in conducting the investigation. The team discovered that the main source of water infiltration was improperly installed flashing, deteriorated limestone mortar joints, and failures in the internal water management systems, which caused water to penetrate through the mass masonry assembly to the interior. Many of the issues dated to the time of original construction.
Concerned about having qualified craftworkers to repair the Capitol’s intricate details and delicate historic materials, WDP decided to include IMI’s Historic Masonry Preservation Certificate Program (HMPC) in the project specifications. IMI and the International Masonry Training and Education Foundation (IMTEF) held a specialized HMPC class for the BAC ADC WV craftworkers assigned to the project in order to address its unique conditions. Engineers from WDP joined the craftworkers at the BAC/IMI International Training Center to present their findings from the investigation and methodology for the repairs and restoration. The collaboration was critical to setting the project up for success.
With the scaffolding removed and restoration complete, the dome of the “People’s Building” is now ready to be enjoyed once again for many years to come by West Virginia’s residents and visitors.