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Release: Jan. 4, 2002

UI selects OPN Architects for Old Capitol Museum restoration project

OPN Architects, Inc. of Cedar Rapids has been selected by the University of Iowa to provide architectural services to restore the Old Capitol Museum. The Cedar Rapids firm will be assisted by Einhorn Yaffee Prescott, Architecture & Engineering, which has extensive experience with historic structures, including restoration projects on the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials in Washington, D.C.

Old Capitol was undergoing a restoration project when a fire destroyed the building's golden dome on Nov. 20. OPN will head the effort to rebuild the dome, to repair water damage to the rest of the building resulting from efforts to put out the fire, and other building improvements.

The Board of Regents, State of Iowa, will be asked to ratify the selection at its monthly meeting in Iowa City Jan. 16 and 17. The Regents executive director authorized the UI to proceed with the selection prior to the January meeting.

"We have been pleased with OPN's work on a number of campus projects, such as the University Services Building, the old Hydraulics Building remodeling, and the School of Journalism project. We were also impressed that they are partnering with Einhorn Yaffee Prescott," said Doug True, UI vice president for finance and university services. "These firms are enthusiastic about the project, and they have reminded us that Old Capitol is truly a building of national significance. It is one of only a few remaining original state capitols."

Other UI campus projects for which OPN is serving as architect include the West Campus Residence Area Master Plan and an addition to the Dey House, home of the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

Einhorn Yaffee Prescott is a 450-person architecture and engineering firm with offices in Albany, N.Y., Boston and Washington, D.C. Among the company's recent restoration and renovation projects are the Old Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., the Cloisters Museum of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Ellis Island Hospital Buildings, Ellis Island, N.J.; Harvard University Main Library, Cambridge, Mass.; and Blair Hall at Princeton University.

Old Capitol Museum annually attracts some 30,000 visitors from across the state and around the world. Built in the early 1840s, it was the first seat of Iowa's state government and was used by Iowa's lawmakers and government officials until 1857 when the state government moved to Des Moines. The building was then given to the University of Iowa. Since that time, the Old Capitol has been a focal point of the university, serving as a library, chapel and armory and providing space for classrooms and offices.

A six-year historic restoration of the building was begun in 1970 in an effort to return the building to its original Greek Revivalist style. The restoration included the offices of the territorial and state governor, treasurer and auditor; the Supreme Court Chamber; the Territorial Library; and the House of Representatives' Chamber. The building was reopened to the public July 3, 1976, as the UI's contribution to the U.S. Bicentennial. Old Capitol has been officially designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior.