Stewards of the iconic buildings and grounds of Capitol Hill since 1793.

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The U.S. Capitol Rotunda is a large, domed, circular room located 96 feet in diameter and 180 feet in height located in the center of the United States Capitol on the second floor.
The U.S. Capitol Rotunda is a large, domed, circular room 96 feet in diameter...

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Snapshot of a crowd of people on a guided tour through the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol
Official Tours of the U.S. Capitol Building are offered Monday through...

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AOC members holding the Historic Preservation Award that they received
The Architect of the Capitol strives to perform all work at a high level of...

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Statue of John L. “Jack” Swigert, Jr.
Visitors to the Capitol are often drawn to the "big ticket" items,...

Hardscapes

Some of Frederick Law Olmsted's most significant hardscape elements can be found on the East Front plaza of the U.S. Capitol.

Some of Frederick Law Olmsted's most significant hardscape elements can be found on the East Front plaza of the U.S. Capitol.

Overview 

In 1874, Frederick Law Olmsted was charged with devising a comprehensive landscape scheme for the U.S. Capitol. Olmsted's major concern was the visual presentation of the Capitol Building and the support of its daily functions. In his submission for the Architect of the Capitol's annual report, he wrote that, "the ground is in design part of the Capitol, but in all respects subsidiary to the central structure."

Much of Olmsted's landscape legacy is architectural rather than horticultural. To distinguish these elements from plantings, modern-day landscape architects coined the term "hardscape." These elements include the low walls bordering the walks and roads and the various lamps needed for lighting the grounds at night. Some of Olmsted's significant hardscape elements can be found on the East Front plaza of the U.S. Capitol.

Recently restored and modernized as part of the building of the Capitol Visitor Center, these elements include the Olmsted fountains and lanterns, now fully modernized, and include new technologies such as the fountain's water pressure levels are tied to an anemometer that lowers the water pressure as winds rise.