The ten-story RSA Union office building stands at the intersection of Monroe and Union streets, diagonally adjacent to and behind the State Capitol. It turned out to be my favorite of the Retirement Systems buildings which PH&J designed. Perhaps my favor resulted from its low-keyed elegance. Possibly it was because the structure had no under-utilized restaurant, nor a failed conference center.
The Union is the second largest of the RSA buildings, and is the most efficient and most economical. It has the highest level of construction quality, and all factors considered, its construction ran as smoothly as any project I was ever involved in. Besides all that, the job did not involve me in one single lawsuit.
You should recall from prior chapters that Dr. David Bronner, CEO of the Retirement Systems, began his downtown redevelopment of Montgomery in 1988 with two office buildings and two giant parking decks, all four of which were spread along Adams Avenue. That $50 Million in construction was laid out on the South side of the Capitol, and constituted the first segment of my 12-year construction saga with the RSA.
The RSA Union was the anchor of the upper (East) end of the second segment of the RSA saga, and this time the work was spread along Monroe Street on the North side of the Capitol. In January of 1992, even while we were still cleaning up problems in the first phase, Dr. Bronner called us in and announced the next round. He had identified another construction depression, this one even deeper than 1988-89, and he wanted to hit the very favorable bidding period which he predicted would occur in late ‘92 and ‘93. How right he was! Few people realize that these highs and lows can swing construction costs from 30-percent below normal up to 30-percent above normal.
There are many more stories (too much for one post) on the RSA Union. Below are some of those stories from Charles Humphries’ book titled The Peril & Intrigue Within Architecture.