Union Station Gets a Facelift

Feb. 27, 2014, 11:01 a.m.

Uni­on Sta­tion is get­ting some work done.

The sta­tion, which first wel­comed train ser­vice in 1907, sus­tained ma­jor dam­age dur­ing the Au­gust 2011 earth­quake that also battered the Wash­ing­ton Monu­ment and Na­tion­al Cathed­ral. Fol­low­ing an im­me­di­ate re­pair of acute prob­lems and ex­tens­ive re­view of the over­all situ­ation, work is un­der­way to re­pair cracks and re­place gold leaf in the plaster ceil­ing of the sta­tion’s soar­ing Main Hall.

Due to the sta­tion’s crit­ic­al role as a trans­port­a­tion hub—ap­prox­im­ately 100,000 people pass through daily—the work is be­ing un­der­taken in stages, so as not to re­strict pub­lic ac­cess to the hall. A scaf­fold has been built to grant work­ers ac­cess to the 96-foot ceil­ing, and will be moved among the hall’s five bays as work pro­gresses. The first bay was com­pleted in Decem­ber, and work on the second is un­der­way. Each sec­tion takes ap­prox­im­ately six months to com­plete.

The res­tor­a­tion work provides an op­por­tun­ity to ad­dress the is­sues that come with age: dirt and dam­age ac­cu­mu­lated since the sta­tion was last re­fur­bished in 1988. The 22-kar­at, 14-gram gold leaf on the ceil­ing will be re­placed with a more lus­trous, 23-kar­at, 18-gram vari­ety ex­pec­ted to last 75 to 100 years.

The res­tor­a­tion is be­ing over­seen by the Uni­on Sta­tion Re­devel­op­ment Cor­por­a­tion, with aid from the Na­tion­al Trust for His­tor­ic Pre­ser­va­tion. Amer­ic­an Ex­press provided $350,000 to help fund the re-gild­ing, which has an es­tim­ated total cost of $700,000.

The unrefurbished portion of one of Union Station's halls is seen from the scaffolding.  National Journal
The extensive cracks had to be filled, sanded, and painted, and the gold leaf will be replaced.  National Journal
Sandro Camargo works on patching the cracks in the plaster ceiling.  National Journal
Ricardo Santos sands some patched plaster in the ceiling of Union Station.  National Journal
The already refurbished potion of one of the halls is seen from the scaffolding erected to complete the work.  National Journal
Netting was installed under the portion of the ceiling not yet refurbished to catch any falling debris.  National Journal
Large cracks and holes in the plaster ceiling are seen through the netting.  National Journal
The egg and dart moulding of the plaster ceiling is reinforced by bolts and washers as well as metal wire.  National Journal

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