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Crews scale dock building in Topeka as rebuilding progresses

TOPEKA (KSNT) — Construction workers could be seen scaling the south side of the Topeka State Docking Office building earlier this week, beginning a process that has been debated for years.

The 14-story building located at 915 Southwest Harrison St. has nestled in the heart of the Kansas capital for more than 60 years, making it one of the state’s oldest workplaces. Work on the building began by Hutton Construction in January 2023 when plans which had been hotly debated for years were finally put into action despite local protests. The building will soon look very different from when construction is expected to finish in the summer of 2025.

KSNT 27 News spoke with Samir Arif of the Kansas Department of Administration about what Topekans can expect to see as work on the Docking Building progresses.

Arif says that some elements of the old building, such as limestone, granite and marble, will be carefully removed and refurbished with the aim of reusing them in the reconstruction of the Docking Building. Other reclaimed limestone panels may be used elsewhere as exterior landscaping components for the Kansas Department of Health and the Environment.

The state’s new Docking Building project aims to reclaim many of the old features that helped make it noteworthy. Plans shared with KSNT 27 News show that the Docking Building’s new look will focus on making it a more open, transparent space and emphasize views of the nearby Kansas Statehouse. This will result in a reduction in the height of the building as it drops to just three stories.

Arif says the building, when finished, will house state agency offices, historical and cultural exhibits, meeting and conference space, a rooftop terrace, and other amenities for both visitors and state employees. The Docking Building will host a variety of new programs, including:

  • Public atrium and exhibition spaces
  • Conference and training center
  • State agency offices
  • Health clinic or other state service agencies
  • Shared meeting rooms
  • Rooms for well-being and personal health support
  • Fitness center and classroom
  • Coffee, market and healthy food place
  • Interactive state exhibition commons

The docking building foundation and sub-levels will remain largely as is with only minor modifications. The basement will still house the central utility plant, campus facility maintenance operations, and central warehouse. Arif says that extensive preparations have been made to ensure that the operation of the boiler system in the basement continues uninterrupted.

The Docking Building was built in 1957 at a cost of $9 million to house 2,600 state employees. The building spans 532,592 gross square feet with over 366,000 feet of office space. It was renamed after Robert B. Docking, the 38th governor of Kansas, in 1987.

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