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Capitol Revamp Below the Radar

Convening in a fairly remote third floor conference room, the State Capitol Master Planning Committee continued its work late last month to propose major physical changes in the Capitol to the next legislature.

Most Oregonians are unaware this committee exists and has developed an extensive plan to revamp the main part of the Capitol, which is more than 70 years old in its current figuration. Wings added more than 25 years ago for legislative offices and meetings rooms already have been remodeled.

The committee's vision statement reads:

"The Oregon State Capitol is a working symbol of state government that embodies the unique character, spirit and heritage of Oregon. The Capitol is inviting, accessible and safe, while being a symbol of environmental sustainability, with long-term flexibility for growth and change."

The plan provides for additional legislative hearing rooms wired to allow live streaming on the Internet, improved access for disabled persons and fortification to withstand earthquakes (a quake about 10 years ago almost brought the "gold man" down from his perch atop the Capitol dome. The plan also would "establish and implement a strategy to become the most environmentally sustainable Capitol in the United States."

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