The Capitol Dome’s First Makeover in 55 Years Has Begun

The iconic structure, badly in need of repair, has entered the first phases of its renovation.

National Journal
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Marina Koren
April 14, 2014, 6:50 a.m.

The scaf­fold­ing is com­ing.

Now that the Wash­ing­ton Monu­ment has been freed from its cage, it’s the Cap­it­ol’s turn. The build­ing’s ro­tunda closed on Sat­urday for two weeks, kick­ing off the first renov­a­tion of the icon­ic dome since 1959. Dur­ing this time, scaf­fold­ing will be­gin creep­ing up on the dome’s ex­ter­i­or and pro­tect­ive net­ting will be draped around the ro­tunda’s art­work, in pre­par­a­tion for a two-year, $60 mil­lion res­tor­a­tion pro­ject.

Restor­ing the 8.9 mil­lion-pound iron dome is a massive un­der­tak­ing. “We have to have a full-on re­hab­il­it­a­tion, full-on re­cast­ing, stitch­ing, weld­ing, seal­ing, and clos­ure of the dome, not only for the op­er­a­tion of the dome it­self but also for pub­lic safety,” Eu­gene Poole, the pro­ject man­ager, said in a video re­leased on the Ar­chi­tect of the Cap­it­ol’s web­site last fall.

The dome’s dec­or­at­ive acorns — 80-pound, bas­ket­ball-size fix­tures — pose a a po­ten­tial danger to struc­tures and people be­low. The struc­ture also has some 1,300 cracks, which have al­lowed rain to leak in­to the ro­tunda in re­cent years.

Check out these pho­tos of what the renov­a­tion will look like — and why it’s badly needed — com­piled by Na­tion­al Journ­al‘s Bri­an Res­nick. And get your scaf­fold-free pho­to­graphy in now, while there’s still time.


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