City hall skylight project costs increase

Thursday, October 18, 2007 | 9:06 p.m. CDT; updated 9:33 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

COLUMBIA — The restoration of the skylights on the Daniel Boone Building will be more expensive and more time-consuming than expected.

An on-site investigation by project architects Chiodini Associates found that the places where the original skylights were set had been filled with concrete. The architects first believed the spaces would be filled with wood.

Chiodini architect Joe Frigerio, who oversaw the roof investigation, said concrete will be harder and more expensive to remove than wood. Chiodini will deliver a new cost estimate to Assistant City Manager Tony St. Romaine early next week.

On Monday, the City Council voted to investigate whether to restore the original nine skylights that once illuminated the lobby of the building. The council’s intention is to follow the Historic Preservation Commission’s suggestion to go ahead with the restoration of skylights.

The restoration estimate included in the council’s report said the skylight project would add $135,000, or $15,000 per skylight, to the cost of the larger city hall project. But that figure is likely to increase. The city hall project has a total budget of $5.9 million.

Part of the cost of the project, the council report said, could be funded by Columbia’s Percent for Art program because some of the skylights originally contained “art glass.”

But there has been disagreement about how many skylights should be added. A 1917 Missourian article said the lobby was lit by “an art glass skylight” but early pictures of the lobby didn’t clearly show the skylights.

An investigation by architectural historian Deb Sheals uncovered an original cross-section of the building showing three skylights across the front of the building. According to the council’s report, the Historic Preservation Commission and the City Council have assumed that two additional rows of three skylights account for the nine “curbed” areas on the roof of the lobby.

Another component of the project was determining what material should form the roof between the skylights. Three options were originally considered as part of the larger city hall renovation: a conventional roof, a reflective roof and a vegetative or planted roof. Members of the Historic Preservation Committee said the vegetative roof would not be a true historic restoration. St. Romaine said the area between the skylights most likely would be the same reflective plastic-based material used for the new city hall building.

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