by Michelle Peirano
If you haven’t seen the Capitol recently, stop by for a look at the dome while you still can. The Capitol dome will soon be covered by scaffolding and will stay that way for the next two years while the iron structure undergoes extensive repairs.
A Wednesday news release named Turner Construction and Smoot Construction as the two companies that would be working together to perform the renovations. The construction team will be repairing more than 1,000 cracks in the dome’s structure and repainting it to look like stone, the release said.
Turner Construction is responsible for building the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial and the World War II Memorial, and Smoot Construction is currently renovating the National Gallery of Art’s East Building and constructing the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
“Our team has the skills and expertise to execute this project for the American public,” said Chris Jahrling, vice president of Turner Construction. “We are looking forward to getting our boots on the ground.”
According to the Architect of the Capitol, the project is already underway and construction should begin soon.
Throughout the $59.5 million project, scaffolding will surround the dome from its base up to the Statue of Freedom. The Statue will remain uncovered at the top, and since Monday, its casting mold will be on display in the Capitol visitor center.
According to the Architect of the Capitol office, it is necessary that the repairs begin now to stop the “deterioration” that causes water leakage and puts artwork in the Rotunda at risk; however, most of the construction will happen during nights and weekends.
The dome has not been repaired since 1960 and “under the paint, age and weather have taken its toll,” said Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers in the October release.
“As stewards of the Capitol for the Congress and the American people, we must conduct this critical work to save the dome,” he said.