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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Categories: Renovation Projects