State officials believe falling exterior ceiling tiles at the Hawaii State Capitol are the result of strong winds on Monday and this past weekend.

The area has been closed off to the public, according to Civil Beat’s media partner, KITV.

The tiles — located on the mauka side of the Capitol — began to sag earlier this month. The building manager, Ernie Bautista, said at the time he did not know what was causing the sagging.

Capitol building damaged on the mauka/ewa corner. South Beretania Street side. 21 feb 2017
The Capitol’s tile damage was evident Tuesday. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Bautista said the Department of Accounting and General Services planned to send a team out to investigate what was going on, and he referred further questions to Dean Shimomura, administrator for DAGS’ central services division.

Shimomura later described the sagging tiles as “mostly a cosmetic problem, but we will continue to monitor and see what can be put together to get it fixed soon.”

He said safety was not an issue and that it was the first time in his 12 years at DAGS that there have been reports of problems with the tiles.

On Tuesday, KITV reported that some tiles fell into the reflecting pool and that maintenance crews “will assess the damage and scaffolding will be put up for repairs.”

Saggy roof Capitol building located on Mauka ewa corner. 6 feb 2017
Here is the same section of the Capitol — with sagging tiles — on Feb. 6. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

State Comptroller Rod Beckher told KITV that the tiles are decorative and “not a structural issue for second floor offices.”

He added:

Our first priority is to eliminate the hazards, check the remaining tiles, then perform repairs. There will be an emergency procurement for a contractor.

We were previously made aware of concerns about the appearance of the area but did not have a reason to declare an emergency situation.

Bids are due to DAGS this Friday.

“Due to the location of the damage and the design of the building, access is extremely difficult and our staff and the contractor are trying to determine the best strategy to address the issue,” said Beckher. “The current plan is to erect scaffolding in the pool under the area. We won’t know the extent of the problem, the cost of repairs and the timeline for repairs until we can safely examine the damaged area.”

Construction of the Capitol was completed in 1969.

About the Author