Chairperson Lofgren Opening Statement at Oversight Hearing on Cannon House Office Building Renovations
Chairperson Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) delivered the following opening remarks today during a Committee hearing on "Oversight of the Renovations of the Cannon House Office Building:"
“Good morning everyone, the Committee will come to order.
“We welcome you to this hearing, which will provide oversight on the renovations to the Cannon House Office Building.
“It has been over a decade since this Committee held its first, and I will say only, hearing on the Cannon renovation project. As a project with an initial budget of more than $752 million, it is important for this Committee to conduct appropriate oversight. It is our job to ensure the project is completed on time, and to the standard befitting a building essential to our history and the day-to-day operations of Congress.
“The Cannon Building is the oldest Congressional office building. Its doors opened for the first time in 1908, and over a century later it is home to the offices of more than 140 Members of Congress, several committee hearing rooms, the historic Cannon Caucus Room, the Rotunda as well as space for congressional support services.
“Going into this project, the Cannon Building had reached a critical stage in its life and was in desperate need of a comprehensive renovation.
“To put the building’s age in historical perspective, when construction of the Cannon Building was authorized, there were 45 states. Of those, 7 states were less than 15 years old.
“When the building opened, it had what were considered modern amenities at the time. That meant that the building had a telegraph office, but no parking garage. It had a forced air ventilation system, but not air conditioning.
“Although a parking garage and air conditioning were subsequently added, by the time this project began the building was plagued by operational, safety, health and environmental issues.
“Defects to key elements of the building like H-VAC systems, plumbing systems, mechanical and electrical equipment, life-safety and fire protection systems and exterior stone had been accumulating rapidly. Ad hoc fixes to these issues were often intrusive, disruptive as well as expensive.
“In addition, as a 100+ year old structure without a prior major renovation, the Cannon Building required a variety of upgrades to windows, doors, lighting and insulation to comply with accessibility requirements and energy consumption standards.
“Since our last hearing on this topic in 2009, significant progress has been made on Cannon, including the completion of the planning, design and pre-construction stages, as well as the commencement of actual construction. I am also pleased to note that as of the beginning of this Congress, newly renovated office suites in 25% of the building are occupied.
“As I mentioned back during the 2009 hearing, the Cannon Building is a historic building and a national treasure.
“We are here taking care of it right now, but it belongs to the American people, and they are the ones paying the tab. So, I am eager to hear from our witnesses about the progress that’s been made now that we are in Phase 2 of the construction.
“Most of the occupants of the renovated office suites that I have heard from indicate that, on balance, their experience in the renovated space has been positive. However, there are a number of issues with the renovated space that I am looking forward to exploring during this hearing.
“These include issues related to the H-VAC system, the operation of the elevators, and improved communications between the building management and its occupants. I am also interested in discussing the reasons behind any cost overruns, justification for any increases in the project’s budget and getting clear answers as to what the final project cost will likely be now that we are right around the halfway point of the renovation.”
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