CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Three companies are interested in designing a fix for serious problems with the brick exterior of the state Public Service Commission's Charleston headquarters.
The companies outlined their plans in expressions of interest opened Tuesday afternoon.
A May report outlined extensive issues with the building's brick facade. Much of the brick surrounding the less-than-30-year-old building, which is located at the corner of Quarrier and Brooks streets, could fall at any time, according to the report.
"When the face brick was removed we observed the required reinforcement to secure the brick or cast stone to the building was often missing completely or inadequately spaced," the report states.
Repairing the existing brick isn't an option.
Instead, the report says all of the brick covering the three-story building should be removed or the brick from the top two floors should be removed and replaced with a glass wall.
The PSC hopes revenue from an increased fee rate on utilities will cover the repair costs. The increase is expected to bring in more than $2 million.
The expressions of interest highlight a company's experience and how it would proceed with finding the best fix. The winning company would develop designs for 35 percent of the options listed in the report.
Companies expressing interest were Swanke Hayden Connell Architects of Washington, D.C., Alpha Associates Inc. of Morgantown and Williamson Shriver Architects of Charleston.
Each has extensive experience in West Virginia and has received large public contracts in the past.
Swanke, along with CAS Structural Engineering Inc. of Alum Creek, conducted the original investigation of the building for about $25,000. The company wrote the report upon which the requests in the expression of interest were based.
In its expression, Swanke states it wants to continue its work. It plans to continue working with CAS if awarded the design contract, as well as two other companies: Metropolitan Consulting Engineers of Washington, D.C. and Forella Group LLC of Virginia.
Metropolitan would assess any potential issues with the building's heating and cooling system. There could be issues once the brick is removed, or depending on which design Swanke and the PSC choose for the fix, it claims. Forella would estimate costs throughout the project.
Though it didn't give a preference in its expression of interest, Swanke seemed to favor the glass wall option in its original report. It would probably cost more than replacing all of the brick, but Swanke believes it would take less time and potentially cut energy costs by providing more natural light.
Swanke was also the lead architect on the re-gilding of the state Capitol dome in the mid-2000s and rehabilitated the Holly Grove Mansion at the Capitol Complex shortly thereafter.
Alpha has worked in West Virginia since 1969. It provided architectural services to many state projects, including work on the Cass Scenic Railroad, a state office building in Clarksburg and numerous facilities at West Virginia University.