TOGUS — When you’re restoring the 80-year-old main hospital building on the oldest veterans’ facility in the country, you want it to function, though necessarily look, modern.

That’s why Building 200 at VA Maine Healthcare Systems-Togus is not likely to look much different from the way it does now upon completion of a $5 million exterior restoration project that’s under way.

Weather-beaten decorative sandstone parapets on top of the building, for example, will be replaced with look-alike new parapets made of reinforced concrete.

“It will look almost exactly the same,” said Ryan Lilly, associate director of the medical center. “Same colors, same design.”

The 1932 building won’t be the same, however.

Workers will restore about 30,000 square feet of the historic building’s facade, in addition to the parapets, and add roof insulation and window flashing, restore brickwork and address a number of problems that have allowed water to get into the structure.

The building, which has 67 beds for medical, surgical, intermediate and mental health needs, as well as a 100-bed nursing facility, will remain fully open and operational during construction.

“It will be a little inconvenient, especially with the noise level,” Lilly said. “Most of the work will take place at the top of the building, and the inpatient units and (operating rooms) are in the middle of the building.”

Lilly said they’ve made some minor adjustments to try to compensate for the noise, such as moving some procedure rooms from one side of the building to the other, for times when workers will be drilling at the previous location.

All of the work will take place during the day.

Lilly said the job is one of the bigger projects to take place at Togus over the last five years.

Contractor Consigli Construction Co. Inc., of Portland, will have 45 workers on the project, including 15 Consigli workers and 30 subcontractor workers, according to Helen Novak, public relations manager.

“Consigli is staffing this project with our local skilled tradesmen and masons to complete the complex restoration of this important building, and we are excited to complete another restoration project for the (Department of) Veterans Affairs,” Matthew Tonello, area manager for the firm, said in a news release.

Staging will be erected around the entire facility so it can be kept open during the work. The project will be accomplished in phases and is expected to take nearly two years to complete.

The Togus campus opened in 1866. Most of its buildings date to the 1930s and 1940s.

The work taking place is part of a larger modernization project at the campus east of Augusta, Lilly said.

“It’s always a challenge to provide modern health care in older buildings,” he said.

Lilly said Consigli was chosen through a bid process and the firm has done other work on the campus, such as the redesign of the mental health inpatient area.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

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