I Wonder: Are new Statehouse skylights a security risk?

I Wonder: Are new Statehouse skylights a security risk?

Credit: Courtesy Idaho Capital Commission

The wings of the Idaho Statehouse now feature skylights -- placed in the grass of the east and west lawn of the iconic Downtown Boise building


by Don Day KTVB.COM

Bio | Email | Follow: @DonLDay


Posted on October 25, 2009 at 2:56 PM

As I was driving past the reconstruction of the Statehouse, I noticed that in the lawn there seems to be skylights. I wonder why they would put skylights in the lawn? Won't that be a cause of concern for break ins? How safe is that? What happens is someone falls in by accident?

- Sonna via e-mail

The Idaho Statehouse is in the middle of a massive overhaul that is adding a pair of underground wings and revamping the inside of the century-old building.

The large skylights help turn what would otherwise just be known as a basement into a well-lighted space with great views of the Capitol dome and the sky above.

But as Sonna points out, there is something a bit counter-intuitive about putting windows made of glass on the ground. Somehow you conjure up images of spy thriller movies with a crook rappelling into an otherwise secure building.

Gary Daniel with the Idaho Capitol Commission says that idea is far-fetched on many different levels.

"I would share that person's concern if I didn't know the project," he said.

First, the glass is incredibly strong - not something you'd find in your average bedroom window. Daniel said workers actually stood on one pane of glass while installing the next during construction.

"The windows are sturdy and strong - it would take a big rock. It's going to take more than just 250 pound a guy jumping up and down on the glass," he said.

Next, getting to the skylights won't be an easy task. They are ringed by an iron barrier and shrubbery - meaning you can't just stroll up to the skylights and reenact a scene out of Mission: Impossible. You'd have to get over both barriers to even get on top the glass.

But the biggest barrier of all isn't made of iron and shrubs it's made of flesh and bones.

"They would be tackled by a staff --I'm not at liberty to say how many - but a significant security staff," Daniel said.

Daniel says security staff patrols the Capitol Mall at all hours of the day, and a myriad of security cameras also keeps a watchful eye.

The restoration project is scheduled to be wrapped up late this year, in time for the 2010 legislative session to begin.