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Published April 20, 2012, 06:52 PM

North Dakota officials fire back over Minnesota lawmaker's capitol remark

Bismarck, ND (WDAY TV) - In hopes of securing funds for a renovation of the Minnesota State Capitol, a lawmaker has blasted the looks of the North Dakota capitol. Now, many with prairie pride are challenging his declaration.

In hopes of securing funds for a renovation of the Minnesota State Capitol, a lawmaker has blasted the looks of the North Dakota capitol. Now, many with prairie pride are challenging his declaration.

It's an all-out war of words between politicians in both North Dakota and Minnesota. We went into the deep recesses of the University Archives at NDSU to look at the history of our capitol, the tallest building in North Dakota. We'll let you decide who wins.

Ron Ramsay – NDSU Architecture Professor: “Is something that is efficient and economical inherently ugly?”

After a fire in December 1930, a new state capitol was needed in Bismarck. In the midst of the Great Depression, NDSU architecture professor Ron Ramsay says designers needed to be frugal.

Ron Ramsay: “It was a product of enormous economic difficulty. In effect it was a state stimulus package. It put people to work during the depression.”

Standing 19 stories tall, the state capitol in Bismarck is in fact one of a kind. There are two other skyscraper-like capitols - one in Nebraska, the other in Louisiana - but is the only one not symmetrical.

Ron Ramsay: “It does look a little bit like an office building, because after all, that's what government is.”

The history doesn't matter to all. Minnesota Republican House Majority Leader Matt Dean called it "embarrassing" and likened it to an insurance building. Not pleased with the comments, North Dakota state officials are firing back.

Al Jaeger – ND Secretary of State: “I had to wonder, has this individual ever visited North Dakota? Has he ever really seen our capitol?”

Ron Ramsay: “Architecture students today are interested and being green and lean certification, and I think in some ways, the North Dakota saw some of that, doing as much as you could with limited resources.”

That $221 million project to renovate Minnesota's State Capitol failed on Thursday. The Minnesota House needed 81 votes. It got 80.

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