WASHINGTON — H.R. 83, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act 2015, enacted this week, funds the Architect of the Capitol through September 30, 2015. Included within this funding is $21.2 million for the restoration of the U.S. Capitol Building Rotunda.
The Rotunda is among the most recognizable and hallowed spaces within all of America’s public buildings. The Rotunda is used for important ceremonial events, such as the lying in state of eminent citizens, the awarding of Congressional Gold Medals and the dedication of works of art.
Due to the extensive exterior damage on the Capitol Dome, which covers the Rotunda, water has leaked through more than 1,000 cracks, damaging paint, cast iron, stone and decorative elements.
The current exterior Dome Restoration will repair the cracks in the Dome and is scheduled for completion in late 2015 (more on this effort at: www.aoc.gov/dome).
The focus of the Rotunda Restoration will be to remove hazardous materials (such as lead paint), restore ironwork, upgrade electrical and mechanical systems, install new lighting and repaint it to historically appropriate colors. This effort is planned to begin in late summer 2015 and be complete prior to the Presidential Inauguration in January 2017.
The U.S. Capitol Rotunda is a large, domed, circular room 96 feet in diameter and 180 feet in height located in the center of the U.S. Capitol on the second floor. The Rotunda was completed under the direction of Architect of the Capitol Charles Bulfinch by the time of the visit of the Marquis de Lafayette in 1824. Conceived in the age of neoclassicism, the Rotunda was intended to recall the Pantheon, the ancient Roman temple.
The Rotunda canopy features the fresco titled The Apotheosis of Washington, and the walls of the Rotunda hold historic paintings and a frescoed band, or "frieze," depicting significant events in American history.
More about the project can be found at www.aoc.gov/rotunda.