LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Capitol has been under major construction for months, but by spring, it will be home to Heritage Hall, a meeting and exhibit center for school trips and tourism.
“Heritage Hall is a 40,000-square-foot underground facility that will be a supplement to the state Capitol building and the Capitol grounds," said Rob Blackshaw, the executive director of the Michigan State Capitol Commission. "The main intent is to have a brand new entrance for the school groups that come in on a regular basis.”
The expansion, designed by architecture firm Quinn Evans, was created with safety in mind. The design allows school children to be dropped off closer to the building and avoids the occasional protest on the front lawn.
“This provides a safer area for them to drop off, as well as they don't have to walk through some of the rallies and protests. And, as we all know, the last few years, we've had some contentious protests and rallies, so removing them from that situation is definitely a plus," Blackshaw said.
The underground facility will feature areas where tour groups can gather, a movie room for informational films about state history and displays like you'd find in a museum.
“You walk down an exhibition hall, and the exhibition hall has three or four static museum displays, which we'll talk about the history of the Legislature, the history of the state Capitol building itself, the history of the two other state capitals prior to when it landed in Lansing," he said.
There's a long sloping ram down to the atrium where there will be large meeting spaces.
"Over to my left is the Heritage Hall Room. Right now it’s storage for construction, but in the end it’s going to be a wide, open multipurpose room with a dividable partition to make it two separate rooms," said Steven Taschner, Christman Construction's project manager for the Heritage Hall project.
Those spaces can also be used by legislators and will be equipped with technology that the rest of the building doesn't have.
“More multipurpose functions outside of the historic fabric of the buildings, one hundred and forty years old now into an area that'll handle with modern technology and wiring and cameras into a facility that can handle those types of meetings quicker and more efficiently," Blackshaw said.
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