Archive for Saturday, August 15, 1998

S PUBLIC FILES ARRIVE AT KU

August 15, 1998

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In July, officials with Kansas University and the state hired a Lenexa-based architectural firm to handle the design of the Dole Institute for Public Service and Public Policy.

When Bob Dole retired from the U.S. Senate two years ago to run for President, the elephant's share of the work for Kansas University archivist Bryan Culp was just beginning.

Culp, the archivist in charge of the Dole Congressional collection, returned in mid-July from one of a frequent number of trips to Washington, D.C. He brought back to KU's Spencer Research Library black-and-white photos taken by nationally renowned photographer P.F. Bentley, framed Senate votes and other Beltway keepsakes, including letters from President Clinton.

``We've got lots of this mint green White House stationery,'' Culp said, pulling items from one of more than 20 boxes transported from D.C. to Lawrence. ``Lots of honorary degrees, they come in all the time. ... I always come back with treasures.''

And despite his official retirement, the former Senator is a long way from sitting in a lawn chair on a sun-drenched deck in Florida.

In addition to continued appearances on ``Larry King Live'' and ``The Late Show with David Letterman,'' the combat-injured veteran has been instrumental in the planning of the national monument to World War II. He is also head of the International Commission on Missing Persons, which monitors ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia, and chair of the Federal City Council in Washington, D.C.

The collection ``is growing all the time,'' Culp said. ``Four thousand linear feet and growing, which makes it likely the largest Congressional collection anywhere, ever. And there's no foreseeable end to it.''

Oh, and don't ask Culp to pitch any of it.

``I notice he saves everything,'' University Architect Warren Corman said.

In July, officials with KU and the state settled on the Lenexa-

See Plans progress, page 16B

based architectural firm ASAI to design the Dole Institute. A formal contract was agreed upon July 22, though financial terms were not going to be released until assorted minor details had been worked out, Corman said.

The planned $6 million facility will house Dole's political papers and memorabilia and also will be used for conferences and special events.

``In reality, we've got a mix of missions -- public service, public policy and an archival mission,'' said Burdett Loomis, KU professor of political science and interim director of the institute. ``Certainly we'll need a building that takes care of the archival needs. But on the public service and public policy side, we'll really want to have flexibility to see how the programs develop.''

Defined aspects of the building include a large seminar room wired for interactive demonstrations and the main entrance, consisting of permanent displays of Dole's career and a reception area.

KU officials expect the building to be completed by early fall 2000.

Prominent designs are nothing new for ASAI. Past works include Topeka's Kansas Center for Historical Research, the new Charles Evans Whittaker Federal Courthouse in Kansas City, Mo., and the restored and expanded Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Mo.

Despite ASAI's level of experience and design awards numbering in the triple digits, firm president and design team leader Steve Abend said he and his crew are far from jaded.

``It's still a big deal to work on a project like this,'' said Abend, a former faculty member in the KU School of Architecture. ``Certainly it's an exciting project. ... Plus it's our first opportunity to work with the KU campus.''

The 30,000-square-foot building will be located just west of the Lied Center parking lot on KU's West Campus. Bids for construction will follow the upcoming design phase.

In the spring, the Kansas Legislature approved $3 million in funding for the building, despite concerns from assorted legislators about setting a precedent of contributing funds to political memorial projects.

The remaining $3 million was guaranteed through private donations to the KU Endowment Association.

KU and state officials interviewed five firms, including three from Lawrence and one from Topeka. Corman said a deciding factor was that ASAI hired John Fawcett, the retired director of the Office of Presidential Libraries in Washington, D.C., as a consultant on the project.

An avid record keeper, Dole for years was given a courtesy space in the national archives to store the boxes and boxes of documents and other Congressional items.

The collection also includes correspondence from Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon, documentation of Dole's political positions and votes on countless issues, photos with numerous heads of state and records of Dole's speeches from the floor of both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

-- Matt Gowen's phone message number is 832-7222. His e-mail address is mgowen@ljworld.com.

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