Topeka Some legislators question the fee Kansas is paying to the architects involved in its Statehouse renovation, but officials involved in historic preservation in other states think it's reasonable.
The state's contract with Treanor Architects, a Lawrence firm that established a Topeka office for the project, specifies a fee equal to 11 percent of construction costs, though Treanor must pay any consultants it hires from that amount.
Some senators complained about the percentage last month, when they attempted unsuccessfully to suspend the renovation, now in the seventh of 11 years. For example, Sen. Chris Steineger, D-Kansas City, argues that in private industry, the typical fee is about half of what the state is paying.
"You don't need architects for every design aspect of a building," he said in an interview. "You can over-manage a building project, and I suspect that's what we're paying for."
But Barry Greis, the state architect overseeing Treanor's work, said the project can't be compared to private construction.
"That isn't somebody who's designing custom houses," he said. "This is a level beyond that."
David Hart, the Capitol architect in Utah, said fees typically would be between 6 percent and 8 percent on new construction and between 8 percent to 10 percent for a restoration project.
But he said it's "not unreasonable" to pay a higher percentage because of the difficulty associated with work in a historic building like a capitol. He said Utah is paying about the same percentage as Kansas in architect fees under a $212 million restoration and earthquake-proofing project due to be finished in eight months.
And several architects said projects such as Kansas' present special challenges that make them more difficult. For example, architects often have to research long-unused construction techniques and resurrect them or find a modern equivalent.
They often have to design fixtures that look old but meet modern codes.
The 11 percent fee Kansas is paying struck Barbara Campagna, architecture director for the National Trust for Historic Preservation as "actually a pretty average number."
"I've worked on projects where it could be up to 20 percent," she said. "They're vary labor-intensive. They're very time-intensive."