HELENA – Workers have been busy this summer replacing some of the original skylights on Montana’s State Capitol that are more than 100 years old and in need of an upgrade.

From the street, it’s hard to take in the magnitude of the work being done to replace skylights on the Capitol roof.  But from above you can get a much clearer picture.

“Two of the skylights we’re replacing are in the wings, they were finished in 1912 and the other is the skylight that’s over what we call the Old Supreme Court chambers which was actually the original Senate chambers and that’s from 1902,” said General Services Division Administrator Steve Baiamonte.

The skylight above the law library is nearly complete, with just ventilation work and flashing left.  Then the temporary floor will be removed allowing the light to shine inside once more.”Each skylight has stained glass that’s visible from the interior of the building, then there’s a large area, what we call a plenum space, and then there’s the actual structure of the skylight above it,” explains Baiamonte.

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“Each skylight has stained glass that’s visible from the interior of the building, then there’s a large area, what we call a plenum space, and then there’s the actual structure of the skylight above it,” explained Baiamonte.

The work being done on the State Capitol roof is a two-fold project: replacing the skylights to protect the stained glass and the surrounding structure, but also to help improve energy efficiency.

“First and foremost is protecting the critical infrastructure of the Capitol,” said Baiamonte. “We’re replacing structures and components of the building that are original, so over 100 years old, and then as we’re doing that we’re doing it in a more efficient manner, incorporating higher efficiency standards.”

Energy efficient lights mean fewer light bulb changes and lower costs, while improved ventilation will help further preserve the stained glass.  Funding for the work was approved in the 2015 legislative session.

“This project is roughly $800,000 which was appropriated in the 2015 legislative session through the state’s long-range building program,” said Baiamonte.  “The project is about a quarter of our infrastructure funding for the biennium is dedicated to this project, that’s how important we feel this project is.”

Work on the skylights is expected to wrap up by the end of the summer.

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