The United States Capitol Dome, symbol of American democracy and world-renowned architectural icon, was constructed of cast iron more than 150 years ago. The Dome has not undergone a complete restoration since 1959-1960 and due to age and weather is now plagued by more than 1,000 cracks and deficiencies.
The Architect of the Capitol recently began a multi-year project to repair these deficiencies, restoring the Dome to its original, inspiring splendor and ensuring it can safely serve future generations of visitors and employees as the roof of the Capitol.
"As stewards of the Capitol for the Congress and the American people, we must conduct this critical work to save the Dome," said Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers, FAIA, LEED AP. "From a distance the Dome looks magnificent, thanks to the hard-work of our employees. On closer look, under the paint, age and weather have taken its toll and the AOC needs to make repairs to preserve the Dome."
Following a full and open competitive bidding process, a contractor was selected to perform the Dome Restoration Project. The AOC will supervise the project to ensure it remains on time and on budget. The project was awarded in November 2013 and preparation work began in January 2014.
To protect the public during this project, a canopy system in the shape of a doughnut was installed in the Capitol Rotunda. The configuration allows the Apotheosis of Washington mural, in the eye of the Rotunda, to be visible during the restoration process. To facilitate the installation of the canopy system, the Rotunda was closed from April 12 to April 28, 2014.
Following installation of the safety netting, a scaffold system that surrounds the exterior of the Dome was installed. Scaffold towers and scaffold bridging is present on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol Building (the National Mall side) to help move materials to the work areas.