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Ten-Year Renewal Project Begins at the Cannon House

The building is undergoing a complete renewal process scheduled to take approximately 10 years.

Tue October 20, 2015 - Northeast Edition
Brenda Ruggiero

The Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C., the oldest Congressional office building outside of the Capitol Building, is undergoing a complete renewal process scheduled to take approximately 10 years.

According to the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) Web site, the century-old building is plagued with serious safety, health, environmental and operational issues that are rapidly worsening.

The building’s last comprehensive systems upgrade was reportedly done in the 1930s, and many of the building’s systems are original, dating back to 1908 or earlier. Other necessary work includes upgrading infrastructure systems and repairing the exterior stone façade.

The project began in January 2015, with MBP-AECOM, a joint venture, serving as construction manager as agent, and Clark-Christman, a joint venture, serving as construction manager as constructor.

The entire project budget is reported at $752.7 million. This includes allocations for planning, design, construction, management, furniture, information technology, security equipment, and swing space build-out and moves.

The Cannon Renewal Project goal is to provide an effective workplace for the next century to serve the needs of the U.S. House of Representatives and support Congressional operations.

“Over the last several years, the building has experienced plumbing leaks, plaster ceiling failures, and chunks of decorative stone dislodging from the building exterior and falling to the ground,” the Web site states. “The project will improve the functionality of the building for both Members and staff, making it far more efficient, comfortable and safer, while retaining the historic grandeur of building. The renewal project will replace or repair key building systems such as heating, cooling, lighting, plumbing, fire and life safety, accessibility and structural integrity.”

Each of the five phases of the project is aligned to fall between Congressional move cycles. Phases 1 to 4 of the project will require that affected wings of the building be vacated. Members and their staffs will remain in the upper campus, while some Committee and support staff will relocate to the Ford House Office Building or the O’Neill Federal Building.

Phase 0 began after the 2014 election, with a low impact on building occupants. This phase includes installing building utilities, primarily in the basement and the moat area of the courtyard. This phase enables future work to connect to the new systems, minimizing shutdowns and disturbances.

Phases 1 to 4 reportedly will impact a quarter of the building, one side at a time, starting with the west wing in 2017 (New Jersey Avenue) followed by the north wing, east wing, and concluding with the south wing. Members in the CHOB will not be relocated until December 2016 in advance of the Phase 1 construction. Construction activities are expected to take place during normal business hours, with the noisiest work activities occurring after business hours.

The west side of the Cannon parking garage will be closed during all of 2015 to accommodate the installation of the tower crane, utility piping, and mechanical and electrical rooms, in addition to select demolition and concrete activities. In 2016, work will transition to the east side of the garage. During this two year period, both drive lanes in and out of the garage will remain accessible. However, there will be only single lane access on all ramps between levels within the garage.

A portion of Lot 1, a parking lot immediately south of the Cannon Building, will be used for the duration of the project to house the contractor’s construction offices and equipment.

The Web site reports that as part of the Cannon Renewal Project, the team is using ground penetrating radar (GPR) to plan and execute its work. GPR drawings help workers to see what’s inside the concrete of the garage and moat walls. This way, the team’s structural engineers can determine the best way to relocate holes and minimize their impacts. Existing reinforcing steel and utilities can be located, as well.

The project will involve the preservation of more than 2 million sq. ft. (185,806.1 sq m) of historic fabric, over 2.5 million sq. in. (16,129,000 sq cm) of glass, 134,444 sq. ft. (12,490.3 sq m) of interior marble, and 271,940 sq. ft. (25,264 sq m) of exterior marble. In addition, there will be 245,000 linear ft. (74,676 m) of piping, 427,500 linear ft. (130,302 m) of conduit, and 58,818 sq. ft. (5,464.4 sq m) of green roof, enabling the growth of 317 million blades of grass.

According to Justin Kieffer of the AOC, one of the major challenges and what makes the project unique is “working in an occupied building that is also part of the historical fabric of our country.”

About the Cannon House Office Building

Completed in 1908, the Cannon House Office Building displays the Beaux Arts style of architecture. Its completion marked the first time in U.S. history that each member of the House of Representatives had an office. Originally, there were 397 offices and 14 committee rooms in the Cannon Building, and the 1932 remodeling resulted in 85 two- or three-room suites, 10 single rooms, and 23 committee rooms.

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