The process initiated by the 2015 Legislature to build a new North Dakota governor’s residence is bearing fruit. Last week, the Capitol Grounds Planning Commission accepted a preliminary layout for the placement of the new house, just north of the 55-year-old house, which will be razed after the new one is ready.
Among project challenges is for a special committee to raise $1 million in private money to complement the $4 million approved by lawmakers from funds earmarked for Capitol grounds improvements and additions. The private effort is led by Rep. Pam Anderson, D-Fargo, and Republican Party official and former insurance commissioner Jim Poolman. They reported last week that their work is going well but they have not yet reached the goal.
The new house plan is looking good. A design committee that includes legislators liked an option that incorporates a family entrance and a public entrance, and a gathering space for meetings and events. The project architect will present three design concepts for public comment in December at the Capitol. Two are two-story designs, one is a single-story concept. Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Fargo, who is on the design committee, was on point when he said going with a two-story house is a “no-brainer.” Kasper, who has been an advocate for a new governor’s residence for a long time, said of a two-story design, “… it just is a much more magnificent statement.” He’s right. The house will be far more than a residence, and its architecture should say so.
The governor’s house also will be the people’s house and a kind of front door/first impression for the state. It should showcase the state’s history, heritage and prosperity. As several lawmakers said, the governor’s official home should reflect North Dakota’s recent economic success and growth.
In other words, do it right. Make it a place that is – in the North Dakota way – both understated and impressive. Have the design embody North Dakota’s traditional values. But also build a structure that will grace the grounds and wow visitors for many decades to come. Thus far, it looks like the commission and design committee are moving in the right direction.
Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.