Many visitors touring the Madison Municipal Building at its public opening Saturday had never been to the building prior to its extensive renovation, but said it was now a sight worth seeing.
The city held an open house with live music and exhibits by local artists to showcase the recent completion of the government building’s massive update and restoration. The renovation of the Municipal Building, 215 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., cost $30.2 million and combined many of the the 90-year-old building’s historic features with modern and efficient architecture.
Linda McKamey, of Monona, said she’s never had a reason to go to the Municipal Building before, but she might come back after walking around, seeing the works by local artists displayed throughout and hearing about the renovation process.
“It’s certainly beautiful,” McKamey said, while sitting in the restored courtroom. “It’s almost worth it to come back just to see the architecture.”
The first floor and basement level of the Municipal Building resemble a modern office, with a neutral gray color palette, floor-to-ceiling glass walls and large, sleek signs to help guide visitors to departments they seek. On its upper levels, the building transitions to an older feel. Much of the neutral color palette remains, but wainscoting lines walls with wooden doorways leading into various meeting rooms.
By preserving many historic elements of the building — such as the windows and woodworking — the city’s culture was preserved as well, said Beverly Armstrong, of Madison.
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“It shows respect for what was done before,” Armstrong said.
Mosaic artist Lillian Sizemore, of Madison, said she had been concerned that some of the masonry would be torn out. While walking around the building, Sizemore said she was relieved to see much of the marble and tile flooring remained, particularly the marble in one of the women’s bathrooms.
“They left those architectural aspects that I’m really a fan of,” Sizemore said.
Since the renovation’s completion, city employees have been moving into the updated spaces, where Madison residents can go to file documents or meet with department administrators.
City Council committees also have started holding meetings in the conference rooms, which are more comfortable for both council members and public attendees and are equipped with audio and video recording equipment to broadcast meetings on the City Channel.