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Supreme Court Façade Restoration - West

Supreme Court Façade Restoration - West

The U.S. Supreme Court building's west front façade has undergone a complete restoration to address deterioration due to age, weather and nature.

The Supreme Court Building, designed by architect Cass Gilbert, was constructed between 1929 and 1935. The classically detailed exterior is clad with white Vermont Imperial Danby marble with bronze windows and ornamental bronze doors, railings and light fixtures.

In December 2005, a modillion from the pediment cornice failed and fell to the ground which initiated the planning for the restoration of the building’s west façade. Emergency repair work was performed on the west portico over several years prior during summer recess of the Court.

The project entailed removing of old and new bird deterrent systems and safety netting and replacement of the mortar and sealants in all of the joints between the stones. Additionally, the stone was cleaned to remove general soiling, black gypsum crusts and disfiguring copper staining.

The stone cleaning used a low-pressure water washing method using mild detergents. The column capitals, carved portions of the cornice and the pediment statuary were cleaned with a laser technology similar that which is used cosmetically for skin. The laser removed soiling without touching the very deteriorated and fragile stone. The carved stone of the portico column capitals and cornice and the sculpture of the portico pediment also received a special conservation treatment, called consolidation, to slow the deterioration of the stone and loss of detail.

The bronze grilles at the portico were cleaned of paint, coatings and corrosion, and were restored to the original brown statuary bronze finish to match the new windows that were installed as part of the interior rehabilitation.

This project was completed in 2013.

Building: 
U.S. Supreme Court
Status: 
Completed
Is a Video: 
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