(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Capitol dome is about to undergo a massive restoration project to repair more than 1,000 cracks and deficiencies in the iron structure, transforming the iconic building’s appearance over the next two years.
According to the Architect of the Capitol, $59.55 million has been budgeted to repair the dome. That’s a cost of almost $82,000 per day if the project is completed in the estimated two years planners believe will be required to finish the work.
The cast iron dome exterior, which was completed more than 150 years ago after the Civil War, has not been fully restored since a project in 1959-1960. Last year, scaffolding was built around the Statue of Freedom perched atop the dome to enable workers to clean and restore the statue.
“As stewards of the Capitol for the Congress and the American people, we must conduct this critical work to save the Dome,” Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers, FAIA, LEED AP, wrote in a statement. “From a distance the Dome looks magnificent, thanks to the hard work of our employees. On closer look, under the paint, age and weather have taken its toll and the AOC needs to make repairs to preserve the Dome.”
The contractor for the project, which will begin in November, is Turner-Smoot.
A scaffold system will surround the entire dome from the base of the Statue of Freedom down to the base of the Dome, according to the AOC. Scaffold towers and scaffold bridging will also be constructed on the west side of the U.S. Capitol to help move construction materials to the work areas.
At the interior of the Capitol Rotunda, a white canopy system in the shape of a doughnut will be installed to protect the public from debris during the renovations. The doughnut configuration allows the Apotheosis of Washington, an immense painting in the eye of the Rotunda, to remain visible throughout the restoration process. A covered walkway through the Rotunda is also required as the canopy system is installed at the beginning of the project, as well as at the end of the project.
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