West Virginia State Office Building No. 3 – Paramount Builders & PWWG
In Charleston, West Virginia, an elaborate historical renovation of the state’s office building No. 3 is taking shape directly across from the West Virginia State Capitol Dome. The prominent building was designed and constructed in the early 1950s and served as the Department of Motor Vehicles site for decades. Over the years, other departments were also housed in the building, taxing systems and capacity.
More than six decades later, the project team is breathing new life and purpose into the facility. The creative adaptive reuse combines significant historical features such as the original terrazzo floor and bronze-glazed windows, with modern-day workplace amenities, such as a first-floor conference center, meeting rooms and open work spaces, new data and telecom utilities, and much more.
In limbo for years, the project finally has the green light. Paramount Builders, based in St. Albans, West Virginia, is working with Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff + Goettel (PWWG), a leading Pittsburgh-based design firm with one specialization: the adaptive reuse, preservation, and restoration of civic buildings and historical landmarks.
“This is one of the premier projects going on in West Virginia right now — and one of the top two projects going on in Charleston by far, as well as the largest project Paramount has ever managed,” says Kyle Captain, senior project manager for Paramount.
A locally owned and operated company, Paramount specializes in commercial, design-build and construction management. Captain says over the last five years the company has focused on public-bid work with a sweet spot in the $14 to $18 million range. “With the completion of many projects in this range, we were able to take things to the next level and be competitive in the $34 million state office building No. 3 bid,” notes Captain. “Four years ago we completed the $17 million State Lottery office building, which was not the same by historical nature, but a very similar renovation project.”
Paramount is currently managing the day-to-day operations of the job, self-performing much of the general trades, and managing a range of specialty subcontractors for demolition, mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP), masonry, interior and exterior finishes, historical features and more.
Revisiting and revising the original plan
Long before the extensive demolition process began, PWWG’s experienced team was busy making adjustments to the original bid proposed to the State of West Virginia in 2010. “PWWG’s original scope of work from 2010 included a lot of site work that aligned with the state’s intention to implement the Master Plan of the Capitol Complex, developed by another firm,” explains Joe Filar, project engineer manager for PWWG. “When bids came in higher than expected, the client pared down the site work first. We collaborated with the state to develop other value-engineering revisions, including reduced scale and program for the first floor conference center and reduced scope of work for building security and audio visual. Security needs were also significantly reduced when the state redirected one of the original tenants with high-level needs.”
With the goal of LEED Silver in mind, PWWG sat down with the state. “We use the LEED checklist as a framework for discussions with clients about sustainable possibilities and project goals, even when formal certification is not sought,” explains Filar. “In the case of building No.3, we had incorporated sustainable principles in the initial design, and we returned to the checklist throughout the project to guide decisions and design strategies, such as selecting the new MEP system.”
With a strong portfolio in existing building renovations, PWWG was well-equipped for the task of modernizing building No. 3 while maintaining its historical character. “We have been restoring, preserving and rehabilitating historic buildings for more than 30 years,” says Filar.
PWWG is adept at a range of restoration types: “pure,” or restorations whose single purpose is the preservation of historic fabric; projects with historic components, as when a façade is restored as part of a building renovation; and projects that involve both restoration and the solution of persistent technical problems that often date to the original construction, such as building No.3. “Examples of our work include the dome of the West Virginia State Capitol, the U.S. Capitol in Harrisburg and our current project fully restoring the landmark Cincinnati Music Hall,” adds Filar.
“In addition to architectural design, we typically assist owners with all of the services needed to successfully implement these historic projects, including code and life safety compliance evaluations, feasibility evaluations, space programming, facilitating stakeholder involvement, coordinating the complex MEP/FP system upgrades, and 3D CAD visualizations of design options,” explains Filar.
Building No.3 needed to move into the 21st century, with a nod to the past. The plan for the repurposed historic structure includes new layouts, amenities, data and telecom systems and full MEP upgrades. “Inherent to any project of this type is developing a thorough understanding of the important character-defining features of the structure and establishing ‘retention priorities’ for those features,” says Filar.
PWWG worked closely with a local preservation consultant who completed a comprehensive survey of the building to compile a report on its historic components (roofing, tile mosaic murals, doors, etc.), all the way to paint color analysis and materials. “We referenced this document throughout the project,” says Filar.
Modernizing from the outside in
The building envelope was first on the list. “Building No. 3 has a very distinct green clay tile roof that sets it apart from the other buildings on the capitol complex,” says Filar.
Paramount worked with Tri-State Roofing and utilized its relationship with the original manufacturer, Ludowici Roof Tile, to complete the new tile roof installation. “This clay tile roof was nearing the end of its life and was replaced with matching tile from the original manufacturer,” says Captain.
In addition, the original bronze windows were refinished and reglazed and the exterior limestone, Virginia greenstone and granite base were cleaned and repointed. “Recall that the building had been in operation since 1950, and for the current restoration and adaptive reuse, the state benefited from salvaging some the original artisan components that had been in storage for years,” says Filar. “For some of these, our task was to artfully retrofit the original components with contemporary upgrades. One example is the ornate bronze entry doors, which we outfitted with new access controls and ADA hardware.”
The original structure consisted of a steel frame encased with poured in place concrete, thus presenting various obstacles for demolition crews. “The interior walls were constructed of terracotta block and plaster, so demoing this was extremely difficult while protecting the original terrazzo floor and marble wainscotting remaining in the main corridors,” outlines Captain. “Simply removing the vast tonnage of masonry debris from each floor was a tremendous undertaking, as the structure would not support mechanized demolition equipment.”
A nod to the past
Paramount partnered with Allegheny Restoration & Builders to complete the historical restoration of the original bronze doors, windows and accent features. “Allegheny Restoration has done extensive work on the State Capitol campus,” says Captain. “They completed the window restoration of WV Capitol Building No. 1, which includes the iconic gold leaf dome, so they have a working relationship with the state historic preservation office, which was a big help.”
“From the start, it was important that the building’s historic fabric remain as prominent as it was 60-plus years ago,” adds Filar. “Many people have sentimental feelings about building No. 3, such as receiving their first driver’s license at the original DMV teller stations on the first floor.”
From the project’s inception, PWWG worked in tandem with the preservation consultant, the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office, and the Capitol Building Commission to address the important components of the building’s character. Some of the items high on the retention priority list were the decorative panels above the entrance doors, exterior finishes such as the limestone and granite façade, bronze windows and the clay-tile roof.
In terms of the interior, the primary character deﬁning space in the building is the entrance lobby, with terrazzo floors, plaster ceilings with light coves, marble-clad walls and bronze entrances. “The other significant historic space on the ﬁrst ﬂoor is the ornate counter in the DMV area,” describes Filar. “PWWG’s design preserved all of this historic first-floor fabric and incorporated it into the contemporary program.”
Light and added flexibility
On upper levels, the typical existing office floors were comprised of cellular office spaces around the building perimeter linked by major and minor corridors, which enclosed the building core. “An important project goal was to remove the 1950 cellular office space and create a flexible office floorplan — with 90-percent open office and 10-percent closed office space — and bring in natural light to the dark elevator lobbies and corridors,” explains Filar.
“Our design achieved this by opening the south corridor wall to the exterior wall, creating a dramatic view to the main capitol building. Another strategy to bring borrowed light into dark spaces was removing doors in the south corridors and replacing them with fixed patterned glass in the existing door frames,” Filar adds.
Outside, project crews have also added a loading dock pavilion on building No.3’s north side to allow for delivery access. “The original building did not have truck delivery accessibility,” says Captain.
PWWG designed the new loading pavilion in the north parking area, utilizing a freight elevator and underground tunnel to access the basement of Building No. 3. “This strategy addressed security concerns and allowed security checks before vehicles get close to the building,” says Filar. “Our other challenge in design of the pavilion was to make it aesthetically compatible with building No. 3 and the other buildings on the capitol campus. It had to blend in, but be contemporary — not faux historic.” PWWG’s design used the same limestone cladding as building No. 3, with green metal panels that complement the Virginia greenstone in the façade.
Currently, Paramount is overseeing the completion of the brand-new MEP systems on the upper floors. “We’re patching the basement concrete slab so MEP work can move forward in the lower equipment rooms,” says Captain. “The building will utilize high pressure steam from the capital central plant, so extensive mechanical equipment and piping will occur over the next few months.”
With design priorities on PWWG’s mind and completing project targets on Paramount’s to-do list, the end goal is the same — a flexible facility that works perfectly for the end user. “With building No. 3 it’s been particularly satisfying to restore and stabilize the physical structure for the next 50 years or so, while addressing a wide range of technical challenges along the way,” says Alan Weiskopf, AIA, managing principal of PWWG. “Anyone visiting the campus will grasp how the building has reclaimed its original grandeur and, hopefully, also share the pride of stewardship of financial, physical and environmental resources.”
Weiskopf adds, “Finally, as with all adaptive reuse, we also get great satisfaction in helping to define a new vision for one of the most prominent buildings on the capitol campus, as a modern, well-functioning and welcoming office space. That evolution celebrates the history and culture of West Virginia, while expressing in tangible form a shared vision for an optimistic future.”
The project is set for a late-2016 completion and will serve the state by allowing it to localize more staff back to the capitol campus and allowing them to enjoy modern comfort in a historic location.
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