Capitol Infrastructure Upgrade

, Michigan State Capitol Commission

Lansing, MI

Exterior view of Michigan state capitol at sunset

From the Senate Chamber chandeliers to the elaborately hand-painted dome, entering the Michigan State Capitol transports you to the Victorian era. After a century in use, the Capitol suffered from failing building systems and leaky pipes. A series of renovations from 1989 to 1992 attempted to correct these issues, but the Capitol Commission saw an opportunity to make additional improvements to protect the structure, its people, and their essential work. Partnering with EYP, the Team launched a new, multi-year building modernization.

Viewing the Capitol as a work of art, the Team is modernizing this National Historic Landmark with the next generation of systems and a new underground central utility plant (CUP) to keep the Capitol’s employees, visitors, and nearly 10 acres of decorative surfaces comfortable and safe.

EYP partnered with the curatorial team to preserve the Capitol’s historic interiors and original character. Improved building systems meet current life safety, accessibility, and energy codes while protecting sensitive decorative finishes, artwork, and historic furniture from deterioration caused by swings in temperature or humidity.

The below-grade CUP is served by a 224-well geothermal field, allowing the building to use renewable sources for heating and cooling. Combined with more efficient equipment and a comprehensive controls system, this approach reduces energy costs by as much as 50%, while providing easy access and safe conditions for Capitol staff who maintain the systems.

Understanding the bones of the building was an important step. So, the Team crawled through the sub-basement to examine rusting pipes, climbed into attics to inspect the equipment, and developed zoning diagrams to assess HVAC distribution, enabling a minimally invasive approach to weaving the systems throughout the building.

And the best part? Our phasing plan enabled The State Legislature and Governor to continue doing the State’s business while we worked around their schedules.

Energy Usage

56 kBtu/ft2⸱yr

Energy Use Intensity

46 %

Below the AIA 2030 Baseline

Building Facts

  • 202,500 GSF modernization
  • New central utility plant
  • 224-well geothermal field
  • Design-build
  • National Historic Landmark

Infrastructure Improvements

The Capitol is undergoing a multi-year building modernization to improve the historic exterior and upgrade interior mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire suppression systems. Improved interior systems will protect the sensitive wall paintings and historic furniture from further damage from leaking pipes and humid conditions.

Construction site of Michigan State Capitol to install central utility plant

Designing a Below-Grade Central Utility Plant

High performance design upgrades include the addition of a new below-grade central utility plant (CUP) served by a 200-well geothermal field under the west lawn, which will allow the building to meet energy needs for heating and cooling systems using renewable sources. Increased energy efficiency is predicted to reduce the building's energy cost by as much as 50%.