"To provide Congress and the public a wide range of professional expertise and services to preserve and enhance the Capitol complex and related facilities," has been the mission of the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) for more than 200 years.
From Brumidi to Olmsted, our agency has a storied history of recruiting highly skilled engineers, members of the tradecrafts and administrators to preserve and enhance what the world sees as an icon of democracy and what we simply call home.
A lot has changed on Capitol Hill, and the workforce, since the 1700s. In the modern era, when federal employees have the opportunity to work on projects as high profile as the Space Shuttle or as historically significant as restoring pre-civil war White House furniture, the AOC must be innovative and forward thinking when it comes to promoting itself as the employer of choice for those soon to enter the workforce. One possible source of new talent is right here in our own backyard at the Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School in Northeast Washington, D.C.
Founded in 1912, and named after Seth L. Phelps, civil war naval officer and commissioner of the District of Columbia, the school offered African-American students the opportunity to take courses in horticulture, upholstery, masonry and plumbing. Over the years, the curriculum expanded to include architectural drafting and general shop.
In 2008, after a $63 million renovation and a retooled curriculum, Phelps re-opened its doors as the Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School, the first public high school in the nation to offer both college-preparatory and vocational education programs exclusively dedicated to the design professions and construction trades.
The AOC has played and integral role in the education of these future architects, engineers and construction professionals from day one. Engineers from the AOC's Planning and Project Management Division have taught classes at the school on the principles of engineering as well as architectural history such as ancient Greek society.
Students from Phelps have also visited the Capitol to see first hand how what they learn in class is applied in the real world. Plans are in the works to expand AOC's involvement with Phelps by providing internships for students and having AOC employees teach classes on a regular basis.
The partnership with Phelps is the perfect union of old and new. Students trained on the latest technology preparing to maintain and enhance the Capitol, one of the oldest symbols of democracy.