Above: Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Acton Township, speaks from the steps of the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday, kicking off three days of grand re-opening festivities marking the completion of a four-year, $310 million restoration of the 112-year-old building. Urdahl successfully authored one bill to provide a portion of the project's funding and also wrote legislation to establish the Minnesota State Capitol Preservation Commission, which spearheaded the project. Urdahl, who also served as a member of the commission, has been a foremost legislative advocate for preserving the Capitol, which was showing serious signs of decay before the refurbishments restored it to pristine condition. Efforts were made to not only honor the work of original architect Cass Gilbert, but also to restore aspects of the historic building such which had been lost over the last century. Public spaces have been regained and skylights that were hidden by dropped ceilings for decades have been uncovered to allow natural light to once again shine. Accessibility also has been enhanced and aging mechanical systems were brought up to date.
Below: Urdahl holds high a piece of marble which had crumbled to the ground from the exterior of the Capitol prior to this April 19, 2012 photo. This moment on the House floor often is credited as being key to gaining momentum for the restoration initiative.