Illustration courtesy of Architect of the Capitol
WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Dwight D. Eisenhower was president last time the Capitol Dome had a complete restoration.
More than 50 years have passed since then, and the iconic landmark is now plagued by more than 1,000 cracks and deficiencies.
In November, Stephen T. Ayers, the architect of the Capitol, will embark on a multi-year project to repair the deficiencies, “restoring the Dome to its original, inspiring splendor and ensuring it can safely serve future generations of visitors and employees as the roof of the Capitol,” according to a statement released Tuesday.
“Under the paint, age and weather have taken its toll,” Ayers said in a statement.
For the next two years, a scaffolding system will surround the Dome from the base of the Statue of Freedom to the top of the Dome’s base.
Many buildings and monuments in the District date back to the mid-1800s and are periodically covered in scaffolding during repairs.
The Washington Monument, built in 1848, is covered with scaffolding as workers repair the earthquake damage. A few blocks away, the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where many White House staff work, recently shed scaffolding after years of repairs. That building was completed in 1888.
Repairs on the Capitol dome are not expected to affect legislative business and are being designed to minimally affect tours and other events.
When possible, the architect’s office said, repairs will be done at night and on weekends. Inside the Capitol Rotunda, a doughnut-shaped canopy will be built to protect visitors from construction debris and will ensure the “Apotheosis of Washington,” a fresco painting in the center of the Capitol, can still be seen.
The restoration is expected to cost about $59.6 million, according to Justin Kieffer, Ayers’ spokesman.