Plan would expand Capitol campus

CHARLESTON – A new master plan for West Virginia’s Capitol Complex proposes six new office buildings, three new parking facilities and more green space to alleviate overcrowding and make the campus more visitor-friendly.

The 30-year plan also includes security recommendations but most have been redacted from the public version, according to published reports.

A legislative building is among the proposed new structures. It would house the House of Delegates’ offices and committee rooms, and offices for Legislative Services and Joint Committee staff.

Most of the proposed buildings would be five stories and have underground parking. The first three buildings would be constructed east of the existing complex on Washington Street. The others would be located north of Building 3, north of the Veterans Memorial and on the site of the existing Capitol parking building.

If all six buildings are constructed, they would provide 667,000 square feet of office space accommodating up to 2,668 employees.

According to the plan, more than 1,200 employees occupy existing office space intended for about 750.

Closets, storage rooms and even restrooms have been converted to offices. These spaces weren’t intended for office use and don’t meet life-safety codes. Frequently, they also do not meet accessibility requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“After 80 years of partially implemented master planning and independent construction projects, the Capitol Complex is an agglomeration of buildings and landscapes lacking in cohesion or clean identity,” the plan notes.

The plan also states that the complex needs at least 850 additional parking spaces during peak periods, when the campus population rises as high as 12,000 a day during legislative sessions and special events. The typical weekday population is between 3,500 and 5,500 employees and visitors.

Most parking would be moved to the perimeter of the campus, making it basically closed to vehicular traffic.

The plan notes that the campus isn’t visitor friendly. In addition to inadequate parking, signage and directions are confusing for first-time visitors and the main entrance is “unsigned and uncelebrated.” The plan proposes constructing a 4,000-square-foot visitors’ center at the main entrance to provide information and orientation for visitors, as well as amenities such as restrooms.

The plan also notes that five previous master plans were only partially implemented.