New concept for renovated Docking Building preserves parts of history

Demolition on the existing building will begin January 1st. Construction is set for March 2024 and expected to be complete by May 2025.
Published: Oct. 19, 2022 at 2:59 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Renovation plans for the historic Docking State Office Building in downtown Topeka are progressing. It will be lowered to three floors, while keeping the existing foundation.

The state Secretary of Administration, DeAngela Burns-Wallace said, ”The one thing about Docking, as we know, it has sat for many years, the infrastructure is outdated, and it is in disrepair.”

The process to renovate the Docking Building at 915 SW Harrison St. started in 2019.

“The legislators asked for the Department of Administration to work with an architectural consultant to bring various options forward for the renovation of Docking,” said Burns-Wallace.

Discussion in the legislature took about two years before a design was approved.

”The legislature actually debated different scenarios and versions of what the building needed to be, how it needed to fit into the larger landscape of downtown Topeka,” she continued saying, “The recommendations that came out of that was a shorter building that really maximized our meeting space, but also allowed us an adequate amount of office space.”

Preserving the history of the building was an added layer.

Frank Burnam, Director of Facilities and Property Management said, ”We also paid a lot of attention and challenged our consultants with redevelopment of the site to reuse these historic elements, like these sculpture elements.”

Many of the sculptures will find a new home in a plaza area planned for the property.

”The intent here is that this plaza will be heated to be used year round, especially during the legislative session, and just really create a dynamic space for both the public, our employees, and everybody to enjoy,” he said.

The design also makes use of the original tile floors in the building and utilizes other elements to ensure it is energy efficient.

”By reconstructing the building we are actually using the building as a more efficient design,” Burnam added. “We are using higher technologies that allow us to tent and control the heating of the space, which will reduce our energy consumption. We are repurposing over 100,000 square feet of limestone material coming off the building to be our security perimeter walls, so we challenged ourselves with repurposing and reusing stuff to reduce our overall carbon footprint, but also design one of the best energy performing buildings in the state of Kansas.”

State leaders said the project will allow them to contribute to the community they call home.

”We are a citizen of this city and us being able to bring this building back to life is powerful for both the state, but also for the city,” said Burns-Wallace. “So, we appreciate the partnership, the conversation that has happened, the interest because it is vital and as an employer in this city it is one of those things where we want downtown Topeka to thrive.”

The state said the project is fully-funded, meaning they will not go into any bond debt from it. Demolition on the existing building will begin January 1st. Construction is set for March 2024 and expected to be complete by May 2025.