Renovation

Published on August 8th, 2017 | by UC&D Magazine

0

Capitol Gain

Click Here to Download the Capitol Gain Singles
Click Here to Download the Capitol Gain Spreads

Architect David Hart is applying lessons he learned from the restoration of the Utah State Capitol – and the architect who designed it – to capitol restoration projects in Minnesota and Wyoming.

It’s been almost two decades since David Hart began serving his 10-year stint as the Executive Director of the Capitol Preservation Board and the Architect of the Capitol for the State of Utah during the Seismic Base Isolation and Historic Restoration of the iconic Neoclassical revival, Corinthian style structure, originally built from 1912 to 1916.
Hart left that post in 2009 – a year after the building was rededicated in January 2008 – to take an Executive Vice President position with MOCA Systems, and is taking the lessons he learned and applying them as a consultant on capitol restoration projects in Minneapolis, Minn., and Cheyenne, Wyo. He also consulted on a renovation of the Cannon House Building in Washington, D.C., originally completed in 1908 and the oldest congressional office
building in use.
He admits that capitol restoration work is not exactly a standard career path for an architect, but he’s certainly grateful for the opportunities it has presented.
“I’ve fallen into a unique niche that not many people get to do,” said Hart. “I’m doing my third (capitol) and hopefully there will be a few more in my future. I really enjoy this. It’s not your typical work.
It’s been almost two decades since David Hart began serving his 10-year stint as the Executive Director of the Capitol Preservation Board and the Architect of the Capitol for the State of Utah during the Seismic Base Isolation and Historic Restoration of the iconic Neoclassical revival, Corinthian style structure, originally built from 1912 to 1916.
Hart left that post in 2009 – a year after the building was rededicated in January 2008 – to take an Executive Vice President position with MOCA Systems, and is taking the lessons he learned and applying them as a consultant on capitol restoration projects in Minneapolis, Minn., and Cheyenne, Wyo. He also consulted on a renovation of the Cannon House Building in Washington, D.C., originally completed in 1908 and the oldest congressional office building in use.
He admits that capitol restoration work is not exactly a standard career path for an architect, but he’s certainly grateful for the opportunities it has presented.
“I’ve fallen into a unique niche that not many people get to do,” said Hart. “I’m doing my third (capitol) and hopefully there will be a few more in my future. I really enjoy this. It’s not your typical >> project – it comes with a lot of politics and a lot of visibility.”
The political, white-hot spotlight nature of such projects can be exhausting at times, coupled with the rigors of working out-of-state.
“I learned how to deal with politics and address public issues while everybody is watching – you have no closed doors,” he said. “You have to deal with that as you’re working through issues. One involves money. Everybody seems to love their building, but they don’t want to see abuse financially.
“By and large it’s a lot of fun,” he added. “The hardest thing is there is only one in each state – and you spend a lot of time in airplanes and living in a hotel. That gets old, but the trade off is worth it. When you see the stone work, the plaster work, the lighting come in…it’s really quite gratifying.”
Among Hart’s initial priorities when undertaking a complex historical project is to study the design philosophy of the architects who designed these buildings – men like Richard Kletting, the architect of Utah’s capitol, and Cass Gilbert, who designed the capitols of Minnesota, Arkansas and West Virginia, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court in D.C. He credits these men for being design geniuses that had a remarkable understanding of architecture and how it related to the environment.
“I have to say this…the one great thing I have learned out of all of this, having worked on a number of remarkable buildings…the architects of the late 1800s and early 1900s really understood their craft,” said Hart. “They didn’t need the U.S. Green Building Council, they didn’t need LEED (Leadership in Energy Efficient Design). They relied on natural ventilation, natural daylight – and they would have easily achieved any LEED standard. The design was way ahead of its time – they did then what we’re now just getting around to today. They thought about how much daylight they needed because lighting, as we know it, didn’t exist. All of these architects, because of their training and environmental sensitivity, they could light a whole building without flipping a switch. It’s quite fascinating.”
Hart said Kletting, who designed many notable buildings including Saltair Resort and the original Salt Palace, was a true “master” of his profession.
“I spent a lot of time getting to know him,” said Hart. “Stand at the Utah State Capitol and watch how the interior changes through the magnificent skylights on the east and west rotundas, how light moves through the building.”
Another interesting aspect about capitol restoration work is literally trying to get back to the beginning, to the roots of the original design.
“When we try to restore a capitol, the idea is to bring back the original architect’s intent and thinking, and try not to impose our thinking,” said Hart. “We’re owner’s representatives, so we try and guide the architects so they don’t impose their will on it. Architects like to put their name on it, but from my standpoint, it’s about getting a building back to where it was originally. We try to touch the building, but touch it very lightly.”
Beyond satisfying his architectural interests, Hart said capitol restoration work is significant for what it ultimately represents for our nation.
“You’re helping the community understand the historical significance, and why these buildings are important, and why they should be restored,” he said. “It gives you an opportunity to talk about the value of architecture and of things I personally believe, the importance of this country, the constitution, and the democracy we have.”


About the Author



Leave a Reply

Back to Top ↑