Scaffolding Coming Down from U.S. Capitol

Last week, a friend who lives in Washington DC posted a picture of the U.S. Capitol and was excited to see the scaffolding that has obscured the beautiful dome for two years coming down.

U.S. Capitol - July 29, 2016

For those who have been to DC in the last couple of years, it’s been disappointing to not be able to see the dome, and also to realize that the Rotunda is obscured too behind safety netting. But it’s been for a good cause, the preservation of the cast iron dome and the murals in the Rotunda, according to the Architect of the U.S. Capitol:

Why is the Capitol Dome under restoration?

Because the Capitol Dome is predominately made of cast iron, exposure to rain, snow, sleet and sun causes damage to its exterior. Water infiltrates through pin holes in the Statue of Freedom, and through cracks and open joints throughout the exterior shell including: the tholos balustrade, the base of the cupola and the boilerplate balcony level. Leaks in the interstitial space promote the rusting of the ironwork and the failure of the protective paint coatings.

A cross section diagram of the Capitol Dome

Additionally, decorative elements that give the Capitol Dome its unique character are rusting, and in some cases falling from the structure. If these repairs are not made, the artwork in the Rotunda, including the Apotheosis of Washington and the Frieze of American History, are at great risk of damage due to water leaks.

The scaffolding will be all gone in time for the presidential inauguration in January, so no matter who your candidate is, there will be pretty scenery, at least in the background.

Safety Netting in Rotunda, photo by Architect of the U.S. Capitol, Flickr, Sept. 27, 2013

Safety Netting in Rotunda, photo by Architect of the U.S. Capitol, Flickr, Sept. 27, 2013

As the internet does, that Facebook post led me through a series of links and posts to the Flickr album of the Architect of the U.S. Capitol titled “Capitol Dome Restoration Project” with 824 pictures showing the progress from start to almost finished. To say I whittled away some time clicking through the pictures of workers engaged in high-wire preservation in one of our most iconic buildings would be an understatement.

This may be my favorite.

Rotunda Interior Protect, April 17, 2014.

Rotunda Interior Protect, April 17, 2014.

And so, as a little Monday present, I leave you with a link to the Architect’s Flickr album so that you too can have something to do while drinking your caffeinated beverage and “planning your week.” Enjoy!

Restored Capitol Dome


Categories: Renovation Projects


2 replies

  1. Reblogged this on Carpet Bomberz Inc. and commented:
    Last year I took a trip to Washington DC, and I was disappointed to see all the work being done on the Capitol. Now it looks like all that was for the good and it’s starting to wind down and finish finally.


  2. Amazing! To think that those guys were that close to that art work – what memories I hope they will have from this project! On a recent visit to the Mississippi Capital I fell in love with domes and cupolas and everything else! Time to go to DC.


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