A world-famous symbol of democracy is going under cover, as workers start a two-year, $60 million renovation of the U.S. Capitol dome.
Curved rows of scaffolds, like Saturn's rings, will encircle it next spring, enabling contractors to strip multiple layers of paint and repair more than 1,000 cracks and broken pieces. The dome will remain illuminated at night and partly visible through the scaffolding and paint-capturing cloths. But the Washington icon -- and portions of the Rotunda's painted ceiling that lies below -- will be significantly obscured for many months.
This first major renovation in more than 50 years should add decades of structural integrity to the dome, which Ayers calls perhaps "the most recognizable symbol across the globe." The $60 million undertaking will heal inner wounds, he said, without changing the way the dome looks from the ground.
After a 1990 rainstorm left puddles on the Rotunda's stone floor, workers found that bird nests had clogged gutters atop the Capitol, helping water penetrate outer walls and streak interior surfaces. Then they found bigger problems. Hundreds of cracks and pinholes in the cast iron exterior added to the seepage.
Pans now capture the water. Congress finally agreed to spend $60 million for a better, more lasting solution.
"It is the symbol of our country," Hildebrand said. "It is an icon that has to be preserved."
Before repairing water damage inside the Rotunda, workers will hang a giant doughnut-shaped drop cloth just below the painted ceiling. Rotunda visitors whose necks can stand the crane will still see "The Apotheosis of Washington" through the doughnut hole. The 4,664 square-foot painting, 180 feet above the Rotunda floor, depicts George Washington becoming god-like, aided by figures from classical mythology.....snip~
2-year renovation starts for Capitol's famous dome
Only 60 million to spruce up.....2 years to finish. Thoughts on the issue?