University of Iowa Old Capitol Restoration

Iowa City, IA
  • 2006 • American Institute of Architects, Iowa Chapter
    Merit Award
  • 2004 • Society for College and University Planning
    Excellence Award

-Construction of the Old Capitol began in 1839. The Greek revival building served as the first capitol of the Iowa Territory and the State of Iowa. In the 1840’s the State’s capitol was moved to Des Moines, and it became the first structure of the University of Iowa.

OPN Architects, Inc., in partnership with Einhorn Yaffee Prescott, were selected to lead a third comprehensive restoration of the Old Capitol. In November 2001 a fire destroyed the dome, cupola, bell tower, and caused extensive damage to the interior. The restoration work included reconstructing and repairing the fire damaged items. Beyond the basic repair, extensive improvements included historically-appropriate lead-coated copper roof; automatic sprinkler system; life-safety code upgrades; permanent and changing exhibit space; and improved interior and exterior lighting.

The project was completed in phases:

  • Phase I    |  2003  | $2,240,000
    The reconstruction of the dome, cupola, and bell tower.
  • Phase II   |  2005  |  $1,360,000
    Installation of sprinkler and fire alarm, repairs to finishes on first and second floors, and new storm windows and restoration of the East Portico.
  • Phase III  |  2006  |  $675,000
    Sprinkler, fire alarm and finish work in the basement level, new HVAC unit serving basement and first floor and restoration of the West Portico.

“Congratulations to you and your Old Capitol restoration colleagues for the Award of Excellence for Old Capitol. Everyone had great expectations for the restoration, and you all have far exceeded them.”
— Sandy Boyd

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