I’m in Denver this week for some BHMA meetings, and thanks to a suggestion from one of my pals, I took a walk over to the Colorado State House. After my visit to the Texas State House last year, along with yesterday’s visit, my bucket list now includes visiting as many state capitol buildings as possible. The architecture is incredible!
One thing that struck me was the number of accessibility features that have been incorporated into the capitol building. A little over a decade ago, there was a $30 million life/safety project that upgraded mechanical and other systems to make the state house more compliant with current safety and accessibility standards. The project improved emergency egress and installed a fire suppression system throughout the building. I don’t ever again want to hear that life safety, fire protection, and accessibility are not feasible because a building is existing and/or historic.
There are at least two wheelchair lifts and two ramps, and several doors have automatic operators. Custom brackets were fabricated to ensure that the actuators, access control readers, and fire extinguishers were mounted within the accessible mounting height range:
The existing knobs have not been replaced with lever handles, but I can’t really fault anyone for that because the original knobs are absolutely gorgeous (the pulls are nice too):
Mr. Brown’s attic, a small museum on one of the top floors, has two escutcheons on display as well as some information about the original hardware manufacturer:
The stairwells have been retrofitted with all-glass doors, although they seemed to have mechanical hold-opens rather than automatic-closing devices that would close the doors upon actuation of the fire alarm system. I noticed that this door was closed permanently because the only doors that are supposed to open directly into a stairwell are the access doors for the stairwell.
The pair of doors leading to the governor’s office has invisible hinges, concealed overhead stops, and what look to be automatic closing devices. I have seen executive offices on past projects where these devices were used to close the door from a remote location – either for privacy or security.
Some of the fanciest doors have ball-tip wide throw hinges:
These interior windows pivot:
The doors serving the House and the Senate are equipped with panic hardware, and the maximum occupant load is posted:
And here are some other beautiful details:
I couldn’t find a video about the life/safety project, but here’s a short one about the House and Senate chambers renovation. There is a longer video about this project here. and additional history here.