PROJECT Forum Building
ARCHITECT Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects:Frank E. Dittenhafer II, FAIA, LEED AP; Peter Colello, AIA; Lisa HB Clemens; Kevin Stick; Cody Cummings, AIA; Nathan Duvall, Associate AIA; Madison Petery, Associate AIA
GENERAL CONTRACTOR Wohlsen Construction
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT Navarro & Wright Consulting Engineers, Inc.
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER Navarro & Wright Consulting Engineers, Inc.
CIVIL ENGINEER Navarro & Wright Consulting Engineers, Inc.
MECHANICAL ENGINEER Erdman Anthony
ELECTRICAL ENGINEER Erdman Anthony
PHOTOGRAPHER/RENDERER Mike Mihalo Photography
LOCATION Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, US
PROJECT COMPLETION DATE 7/21/2023
Most of the interior areas of this National Historic Landmark Building at the Pennsylvania State Capital Complex had been unoccupied and in a state of disrepair for many years. When long-awaited funding was finally allocated, the design of a comprehensive transformational renovation project ensued which addressed the following aspects: repair/restoration of all historic interior and exterior components, replacement of all building infrastructure with sustainable state of the art systems, and conversion of the inefficient floor plan layouts of small rooms along double-loaded corridors to open-plan flexible work zones within daylight-filled floor plate wings.
The historic structure was originally designed as the Education Building for the State and constructed in 1931 with an eponymous Auditorium space known as “the Forum”. Over time as the facility aged, the Education functions left the building and occupied leased space in multiple privately owned office structures in downtown Harrisburg – leaving over 400,000 square feet of underutilized/unoccupied space in the Commonwealth owned building. Only the “publicly accessed” State Library, State Law Library and Auditorium spaces remained viable throughout the duration.
The Department of General Services (DGS) programming scope focused on providing “state of the art/post covid” efficient and flexible workplace environments on multiple building floor levels within the building – despite the lack of a specific tenant/or tenants. Serendipitously, successful negotiations with the current PA Department of Education to “reoccupy” their original home advanced – and over 700 department staff will occupy the transformed building.
Over 450 historically accurate custom fabricated windows provide light-filled open work areas. Craftspersons and Artisans painstakingly restored central core ceilings, floors, marble wainscots, elevator door panels, wood paneling, copper roofing, bronze exterior doors, brass interior stairwell railings and many other significant components original to the building.
Contemporary insertions were thoughtfully designed and detailed after a thorough vetting by historical preservation officials including the Capital Preservation Committee and PA Historical Museum Commission. The exposed steel roof trusses within the fourth level south interior (legal department), reuse of marble wainscoting to clad the north walls in two break rooms, frameless glass door systems at the east and west central lobby cores –represent new interpretive expressions.
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