Incoming Governor Kathy Hochul will direct the Office of General Services to begin looking for a “star architect” to design a new glass dome and atrium at the State Capitol, sources familiar with her thinking tell The Chronicle.
Built in 1867, the five-story State Capitol houses the Governor’s Executive Chamber, the State Senate, and the State Assembly. These chambers are constructed around an outdoor courtyard that is seldom used but is, perhaps, Albany’s most central space. Hochul wants to put that 12,000 square foot open-air space to year-round use under what is being described as “a glassy and iconic” new dome. The multipurpose atrium would be used for a variety of functions — where Senate and Assembly staffers can eat lunch, where community organizations can rally, and where visitors can enjoy guided tours.
Democrats close to Hochul explain that she understands and appreciates the power of architecture. She believes that better architecture and more deliberate use of space can help our legislative bodies work better together.
“Kathy Hochul is bringing a woman’s sensibility to the State Capitol — at least as it pertains to space and function,” says one county chairman close to Hochul. “She wants to take the cold blank space that divides the Senate and Assembly chambers and she wants to make that space warm, bright, inviting, and public. She sees the atrium as an architectural tool that will be powerfully democratizing in its function.”
“They say sunlight is the best disinfectant. It’s no surprise Kathy would want to build a huge skylight atop the Capitol,” he quips.
Hochul will direct the Office of General Services to find a “bold” architect with “strong roots” in New York State. The design of the atrium is expected to reduce the building’s heating and cooling costs.