FORT RILEY, Kan. -- "As an architect you can't just walk through a building like that without thinking about all the people that went through those buildings and walked those halls," said Paul H. Cavanaugh, architect for the Project Management Branch, Directorate of Public Works -- Engineering Division, on the planned renovation project for the 1st Infantry Division Museum, U.S. Calvary Museum and the Research and Education building.

The $14.5 million in renovations were funded by the Center of Military History and will begin with a contractor meeting in December, Cavanaugh said. From there, they will finalize the planned renovation.

"The renovation will be total," he said. "Completely gutting the interior of the buildings, putting new walls to enhance the structural framing, weather sealing the exterior shell, new HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) or mechanical systems, environmental control for all the artifacts in there, new electrical components, new plumbing, an elevator and accessibility issues for the handicap will be improved and of course improve the anti-terrorism measures with the doors and windows, stand-off distances will be involved as well. So it is total clean it out, start over and new."

A fresh start will give the buildings a 21st century facelift with modernized technology to showcase artifacts that date back to 1855.

"The total renovations is an eye to the historic value to the buildings," he said. "Building 205, for instance, part of that building was one of the earliest buildings on post, which was 1855 when it was built as a hospital."

The concern with moving forward on the project was the funding and where the artifacts would go during the year-and-a-half-long construction season.

"In the early days, we were worried about the funding," Cavanaugh said. "Which building do we start on first and how do we logistically move it to another building."

The solution was to fence the three buildings off at one time and renovate them all at once, he said. Then move all the artifacts to a separate building in the meantime.

"Actually here is the good thing about it," Cavanaugh said. "We've got a swing space building down on Calvary Row that the museum will be able to move into while all this renovation is going on. So, 205, 203 and 207 -- all three of those buildings -- will kind of create the campus core for the construction. The contractor will come in and fence those all off and do the renovation on all three buildings at one time."

The State Historic Preservation Office has been involved in the review of the design process of the Museum campus, Cavanaugh said, due to the historic nature of the buildings.

Two additional people who have been directly involved with the project are Bob Smith, director of Fort Riley Museums Division and Theresa de la Garza, historic architect and cultural resources manager of the Department of Public Works -- Environmental Division.

"My role as historic architect is to ensure Fort Riley complies with federal preservation laws and regulations," De la Garza said. "I am involved in the planning, design and construction administration of projects associated with historic facilities at Fort Riley. I ensure the projects meet the secretary of interior's standards and guidelines for the treatment of historic properties. This review process complies with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

"The Museum Complex renovations will greatly improve the longevity of the buildings by supporting new state-of-the-art exhibits, increasing accessibility for visitors, restoring historic fabric of the buildings and providing a better interior-to-exterior historic experience for the visitors," she said. "Although the Center for Military History is the steward of the vast majority of artifacts and artwork within the new exhibits, our office contributes artifacts from our curation facility and ensures the stewardship of the buildings themselves."

Cavanaugh said working with Smith and De la Garza during the design process has been phenomenal due to their hardwork and dedication to the historic nature of the buildings.

"I am just thrilled to be involved with this, I truly am," he said. "Those people have been working in them for so long. The archived elements that they have in the museum are unbelievable … Now we will have the opportunity to upgrade the environment to state of art to showcase all that they have over there."

Looking a year and a half into the future, the renovated buildings will be a restoration to some of Fort Riley's historic past.

"It really gives the people of Fort Riley a touchdown to their history and their legacy," he said "To think about all the people and experiences that have happened here on Fort Riley and what has happened here is just amazing."

For more information about the renovations, call Fort Riley Museums at 785-239-2737 or visit their website at