Michigan Brunch Bash

Heritage Hall Comes to Life

Heritage Hall is expected to help increase tourism in Lansing.

When the Michigan Capitol restoration project was completed in 1992, the Capitol was named a National Historic Landmark, and architect Richard Frank received the prestigious American Institute of Architects Michigan Gold Medal for his work on the restoration.

Soon after, Frank put together a master plan for an underground facility at the Capitol to supplement its activities and operations. The project, which also included an underground parking lot, was deemed cost prohibitive. Fast forward about 25 years to 2017, and Michigan State Capitol Commission Executive Director Rob Blackshaw and others were thinking once again about the possibilities for such a facility.

“This project came back to life without the parking supplement — which made it more cost effective,” Blackshaw said. “And it accomplishes the goals and the needs of what the Capitol Commission wanted to do to support the Legislature.”

The 40,000-square-foot underground facility at the Capitol will act as the new main entrance for all tour groups and will offer a multifunctional, 500-person auditorium — big enough to hold the governor’s budget conference and other major public conferences — and a conference center with space for historical exhibits.

Heritage Hall will enable business groups, lobbyists, local advocacy groups and others to meet with legislators in a convenient location, and it is expected to increase tourism in Lansing. Blackshaw said a meeting is already scheduled for August in Heritage Hall, and the facility is starting to book for committee rooms and different meetings for next year.

“It’s a very exciting and beautiful project,” he said. “Skylights enable you to look up and see the Capitol dome; it’s really going to be an attractive facility. We believe it will draw people right to it.”

Heritage Hall is expected to open to the public in late June. Those interested can visit capitol.michigan.gov/restoration to access videos and a livestream of the project.

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