Olympia, the state capital is located at the south end of the Puget Sound, is graced with elegant government buildings and gardens.Washington State’s Legislative Building, completed in 1928 after six years of construction, serves as both a working governmental center and a symbol of Washington’s free and democratic government. It is the centerpiece of the five historic buildings designed by New York architects Walter Wilder and Harry White. Conceived in the architectural competition of 1911 and selected by the State Capitol Commission, Wilder and White’s designs for the Legislative Building were completed and set into motion in 1922. More information about the history of the building can be found online at www.HistoryLink.org.
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Since it opened, the Legislative Building has withstood three major earthquakes, the most recent being the February 28, 2001 “Nisqually” earthquake, thanks in large part to the excellent structural design by Wilder and White, and the superior craftsmanship of the original builders. The building underwent significant seismic upgrades following the earthquakes of 1949 and 1965.
A three-year rehabilitation and earthquake-repair project was completed in 2004. The $120 million project added modern heating and cooling, plumbing, fire protection and state-of-the-art wireless technology systems, while maintaining historic features. It also improved accessibility, added new public space, made further seismic and security upgrades, and repaired damage caused by the 2001 earthquake.
As part of the environmentally-friendly building practices used throughout the project, more than 80 percent of the construction waste – 8,000 tons of wood, concrete, paper, bricks, dirt, metal and drywall – was recycled. The project also placed 144 solar panels atop the fifth-floor roof of the building – the largest array of solar panels on a capitol in the United States.
The Legislative Building is comprised of more than 173 million pounds of stone, brick, concrete and steel. It is the fourth tallest masonry dome in the world, rising 287 feet high. Below are some additional facts about the building.
While here, stop and visit a variety of other attractions, including Percival Landing boardwalk, Farmers Market, Hands-On Children’s Museum, the Yashiro (Olympia’s sister city) Japanese Garden, and the Bigelow House Museum.
Eight blocks south of the Capitol Campus, in the heart of Olympia’s historic district, is the State Capital Museum. Dedicated to preserving the culture and history of Washington State, the museum is housed in a stately stucco mansion and offers an extensive gift and souvenir shop. Museum hours are 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday–museum is closed Sunday-Tuesday.