The dome of the Saskatchewan legislative building will look noticeably different when its restoration project wraps up this spring.
“I think people will be really proud of the project,” building manager Steve Bata said. “And be amazed at how shiny the dome is.”
Copper is now being put back up on the dome as the project that began around May 2014 nears completion. The cost now sits at upwards of $21 million – higher than the initial estimate of $15 million. While Bata admits that the project has cost more and taken longer than expected, he explained that additional work was necessary once restoration crews were able to see the extent of the damage to the 103-year-old structure.
“Once you’re face to face with some of the roof and some of the dome here, and you start peeling the old copper and old roof, you find a few things that are game changers,” Bata explained.
Much of the damage came from a century’s worth of rain and snow pouring down the stone that sits at the top of the building. Many of the massive stones had to be completely cut out, examined and catalogued, repaired, or completely replaced.
All new material is Tyndall stone from the same quarry near Winnipeg that the original material came from more than 100 years ago.
Jerrod Keuler, the project manager with PCL construction, explained that once the masonry work was complete, the restoration of the dome shape itself could begin.
“When they built it 100 years ago, they essentially created a skeleton on the outside of the concrete dome that created the base for some of these shapes,” Kueler said. “What we’ve done this time is we’ve actually kind of built out that existing structure with wood and insulation … and this copper is substantially more solid than it was 100 years ago.”
The copper, about half the thickness of a penny, shines bright as it’s put into place on the dome. However, Kueler says it won’t take long for the material to react to the air and return to the building’s familiar look.
“Over the next year (or so) I think this will change to the dark colour that everyone’s used to.”
There’s no firm date in the place as to when the project will finish, but Bata said the work will wrap up sometime this spring. He explained that with 175,000 pounds of steel surrounding the dome, it will take some time and planning for how to reveal the dome’s new look to the public.
Having been the building manager for three decades, Bata said the project gave him a chance to see things in the building he hadn’t seen before.
“You could be here a long time and not see everything. There might be a nice carving or something on the side of the building … even after years you look at and think, ‘how’d they do that?'”
Keuler agreed that the project is unique, and gave the crews a look into the past.
“You don’t often get an opportunity to work on a building of this magnitude, with the type of construction that it is – getting to see how they built things of this nature 100 years ago.”