By Gintautas Dumcius

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

STATE HOUSE -- A new "command center" on the fourth floor, the potential for a facial recognition system for entrance to the offices, and temperature control in the rooms.

Those are part of an estimated $11.3 million renovation to modernize and preserve the governor's State House office suite on the third and fourth floors, as well as part of the second floor. The project, which started in January, spanned 19,000 square feet.

"It was a complete historical renovation," said Richard Petersen, senior construction manager for the state Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, after leading reporters through a tour of the revamped offices, which Gov. Deval Patrick moved back into on Tuesday. "It wasn't just a restoration. We actually went in, and we did a lot of research to find out what the colors were, what the textures were, what the floor was, and whatnot, and working in conjunction with Mass. Historical Society and the Commission, we got exactly how it looked back in 1798."

>>> For video of the renovated Executive Suite, go to: http://www.statehousenews.com/video/14-08-05executive/ <<<

Shirin Karanfiloglu, director of programming in the office of planning, design and construction at the state Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, said "unforeseen conditions" discovered as project workers opened up the ceilings and walls added to the cost, which was originally estimated at $9 million.


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Workers had to put steel beams into the second-floor ceiling, directly below the third-floor governor's office and the Governor's Council chambers, after discovering there were holes "all over the place," Petersen said.

Over 60 percent of the plaster walls in the executive suite were cracked or deteriorating, according to the Patrick administration. The terra cotta and steel support structures had deteriorated, Petersen said.

"We actually stopped work, we wouldn't allow people on the governor's floor and [the Governor's Council Chamber] for a month or two until we rectified the structural problem that we had right here, so that was kind of a surprise to us," Petersen said. "And it was only found because we opened up the ceiling that had been closed for the last 100 years."

On the fourth floor, a new "command center" will mimic the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency bunker in Framingham. Though the technology has not been fully installed, six plasma televisions will be mounted on the walls below exposed beams from the 1800s. The area once included legislative interns, policy officials and lawmakers' offices.

The infrastructure and software is there if State Police want to implement a facial recognition system for the doors to various offices, Petersen added.

Patrick's corner office, which once sported a pale blue walls, is now painted "Bulfinch green," a custom color matched to the original green samples found under coats of paint.

Workers also restored a chandelier in the Corner Office, the only remaining gas fixture in the building which has now been electrified. The chandelier, made of mostly zinc and brass in the 1850s, features a frontiersman, a Native American and Lady Liberty.

In the lobby, which now has new hardwood floors, visitors will be able to walk to the balcony that overlooks Boston Common, instead of two administration officials' offices blocking their view.

The chamber where the Governor's Council meets regularly to consider judicial nominees also received a revamp.

Desks from the 1890s, similar to the desks used by senators in their chamber, had been taken out of the council's chambers sometime in the 1990s, and wound up at a state-owned storage space in Lancaster. As part of the renovations, the desks have been put back in the Governor's Council chamber, next door to the governor's Corner Office.

The floors are now also ramped for accessibility for the disabled and existing stair lifts were replaced.

During the renovations, Patrick has worked out of a second floor office in the west wing of the building. The temporary relocation cost $112,737. 

The Patrick administration provided a breakdown of spending on improvements to the executive offices and the west wing. Design and engineering cost $1 million, while the construction contract award cost $6 million.

The electrical work cost $379,309, security $176,407, plaster work $111,151 and plumbing totaled $123,095. Furnishing and equipment cost $567,615. Outstanding change orders still being negotiated were worth an estimated $1 million.

Workers are still putting the finishing touches on the project, going through a punch-list and wrapping up work on the second floor offices directly below the governor's office, that will again house constituent services staffers.

All the work should be finished by Wednesday, Aug. 13, according to Petersen.

"We should be set here for another 100 years," he said.