The Third Level Railing in the west wing of the Illinois Capitol facing the grand staircase and large painting by Gustav A. Fuchs is a fabulous stone balustrade whose railing ascends from the second floor to the third where it forms a balcony overlooking the painting. Since approximately the late 1940’s an additional steel mesh existed on top of the stone railing to create a barrier that met the increasing requirement for height of a balcony railing. During a major renovation of the west wing the steel mesh was removed and the balustrade cleaned.
This project envisions a new railing to accommodate the spirit of the code and the historic nature of the space. The design takes some of its cues from a remodeling of the Samuel M. Nickerson Mansion into the Richard H. Driehaus Museum in Chicago that had a similar situation with balcony railings. The International Existing Building Code indicates that historic railings at grand stairways are permitted to remain without modification. The beautiful railing remains as it was designed and constructed.