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Architecture

Doric Columns

Overview 

Doric columns typically have a simple, rounded capital at the top; a heavy, fluted or smooth column shaft; and no base. Flutes are vertical, parallel channels that run the length of a column. Columns in this style can be found throughout Capitol Hill, including the U.S. Capitol, the Supreme Court Building, the Russell Senate Office Building and the Cannon House Office Building.

The Crypt in the U.S. Capitol Building contains 40 smooth Doric columns of sandstone, which support the arches holding up the floor of the Rotunda. Also in the Capitol, Doric columns can be found in the Old Supreme Court Chamber, designed by Benjamin Latrobe. These columns are modeled on the Temple of Poseidon, which were the shortest and the strongest columns that survive from classical Greece.

The Supreme Court Building’s main corridor is known as the Great Hall, a grand rectangular vestibule that is 30 feet high and lined on both sides with double rows of fluted Doric columns. The columns rise to a coffered ceiling.

The Cannon House Office Building and Russell Senate Office Building, which are nearly identical, contain 34 fluted Doric columns each along their colonnades, facing the United States Capitol. Pilasters continue the Doric order along secondary elevations.