The proposed solution for the State Historical Building Renovation will maximize the reuse of the existing infrastructure, while right-sizing the building to a square footage that is more manageable for the department within its given operating budget. The west portion of the building will be renovated to accommodate exhibit galleries, classrooms, collection storage and office functions, while the east portion of the building will be removed to create a new outdoor public space and allow for sightlines with spectacular views of the state Capitol. Programmatic functions currently on the east side will be moved to the west side, creating a better defined visitor experience and more efficient staff operations. The existing building is underutilized and therefore oversized at 234,000 square feet; the new plan at 155,000 square feet will be more functional, flexible and adaptable for the future.
For the first time in 157 years, the DCA is undertaking a full assessment of the State Historical Society of Iowa’s collection. When every single historical artifact, photograph, page of manuscript, birth certificate, rare book or archive in the state’s collection is recognized, it totals more than 209 million pieces of Iowa history. The first priority of this collection initiative is to increase access to the collection for Iowans, and technology is critical in this endeavor. The State Historical Museum and Research Centers must evolve to utilize current day collection management standards to become a place where history is preserved and technology is embraced to reach a broader audience.
The State Historical Building has been facing a number of structural and maintenance issues for many years. Among these are: a failing building envelope with no vapor barrier, exposed pipes above exhibits and collection storage, unsealed concrete ceilings, water leaks, a faulty internal drainage system, failing exterior granite and an outdated heating and cooling system that needs to be replaced in its entirety. Through a renovation, all of these issues will be addressed while reutilizing the existing infrastructure to ensure the most cost-effective renovation solution.