Politics & Government

Improved Cherberg soon to reopen

Workers for the state Senate are about to return to the John A. Cherberg Building on the Capitol Campus, after the historic building's $24 million renovation.

Committee staff, senators' aides and security staff, about 150 workers in total, moved out of the 1937 building last fall. They took up residence across the parking lot in two temporary modular buildings first brought to the campus during the Legislative Building's renovation in 2002.

"I think people are very anxious to get out of the modular buildings," Secretary of the Senate Tom Hoemann said. "As surge spaces for a construction project, they were pretty good. But you're short on conference space, meeting rooms. They've gotten a fair amount of use over the years."

Final touches

Construction workers are putting the final touches on the office building, particularly on the first floor, where Senate committee meeting rooms branch off from a marble-lined hallway.

"First floor is the last floor that we'll be finishing up. Two, three and four are essentially finished," said Richard Price, who is heading the project for the Department of General Administration.

The major work is complete, and furnishings like desks and filing cabinets are being moved in this week, Price said. Staff should be moved in by early November he said.

"In essence, we have the major work completed. The owner is moving in furnishings. Even right now they're moving in materials from modulars 1 and 2. The contractor's still working on the basement, finishing that up next," he added.

The project came in $3 million under its almost $27 million appropriation, Price said.

The renovation included extensive rewiring and safety upgrades, particularly strengthening the basement foundations in case of another strong earthquake.

Hoemann noted that while the conference rooms were usable during the last Legislative session, the hallways were cloaked in plywood, and the upstairs offices were gutted.


Moving back in will help with scheduling and provide better surroundings, he said. "It's going to be a good building, and I think the public will like it as well. We took a lot of care with its historic character."

And once the staff is back in the Cherberg Building, the modular buildings will be moved.

While useful, they have sparked complaints from neighbors who objected to the box-like structures on an old parking lot.

"The two-story modular is being taken by the military department, and the single story is being taken by the Department of Transportation," Price said. "Both of those, we'll probably start dismantling them in early November and they'll probably be gone by December."

Adam Wilson covers state workers and politics for The Olympian. He can be reached at 360-753-1688 or awilson@theolympian.com.


Designed by architect Joseph Wohleb and completed in 1937.

Used by Senate for staff and legislative offices as well as committee meetings.

The name "Public Lands" is chiseled into its entrance, denoting its original use as home to the state lands commissioner and other offices.

The neoclassical concrete structure has sandstone and granite exterior cladding, marble interior walls, bronze and chrome art deco interior fixtures, such as doors and light fixtures, and a gilded ceiling in its north vestibule.

Original construction cost was $800,000; money appropriated for renovation is $26,692,000.

General contractor for renovation is Berschauer Phillips Construction Co., Olympia; consulting architect is Cardwell Architects, Seattle.

The building has 132 staffers during interim and up to 670 members, staffers and citizens in hearing rooms during legislative sessions; maximum fire-code capacity is 1,689.

It's a four-story building with full basement and has 98,992 square feet; the building is 67 feet tall, including a mechanical-room parapet.

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