California State Capitol South Portico Repairs

California Department of General Services
Architectural Design
Historic Preservation
Sacramento, CA
Project type

Restoring a vital public building from unexpected disaster

Late in the evening, an 18-wheeler rammed the California State Capitol’s south portico at over 50 miles per hour while the State Assembly was wrapping up its session. The truck threaded the portico’s east arch, broke a window, and burst into flames. Fortunately, a previously installed seismically-reinforced wall stopped the truck from entering the building, and no one inside the capitol was injured. However, the incident caused extensive fire, smoke, and water damage (from the fire sprinklers). For safety, the State closed off the portico and adjacent interior spaces.

To restore the capitol to its full functionality as soon as possible, the State fast-tracked a repair project that aimed to retain and repair as much of the existing materials as possible. As the design-build team’s architect of record, we immediately conducted a condition assessment of the heavily damaged portico. Our team surveyed the damaged granite in detail, documented the condition of each stone, and provided recommendations for cleaning, Dutchmen and composite patching, and installing stone veneers where required. After the survey, we designed the repairs for the portico, including Sierra White and Raymond granite repairs, marble paving repairs, stucco cladding repainting, waterproofing, cast-iron ornamentation restoration, and historic interiors restoration.

Photo showing the California State Capitol South Portico after it was repaired.

Time-sensitive restoration

During construction, we worked with the contractors to solve any issues that arose during field-testing and repairs. The design-build team completed this highly-complex, detail-intensive project in only 15 months for $12.5 million, well under the damage estimate of $16 million. We designed the project to comply with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation


  • California Construction Magazine Best of 2003, Restoration Award
  • California Preservation Foundation Preservation Design Awards, Preservation Design Award, 2002

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