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.
This fall the Architect of the Capitol will begin 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 project while under close oversight by the AOC to ensure the project remains on time and on budget. The project will begin this November, with the majority of work conducted at night and on weekends to ensure minimal disruption to Congressional business, events and public tours.
For approximately two years residents and visitors will see a scaffold system surrounding the entire Dome from the base of the Statue of Freedom down to the top of the Dome skirt (base of Dome). Scaffold towers and scaffold bridging will also be constructed on the west side of the U.S. Capitol Building to help move materials to the work areas.
At the interior of the Capitol Rotunda, a white canopy system in the shape of a doughnut will be installed to protect the public. The configuration allows the Apotheosis of Washington, in the eye of the Rotunda, to be seen throughout the restoration process. A covered walkway through the Rotunda is required as the canopy system is installed at the beginning of the project, as well as at the end of the project.
Updates on the restoration and more information about the Capitol Dome can be found at: www.aoc.gov/dome or by following AOC on Twitter: @USCapitol