The Capitol Dome

2017 Dome 54.1

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D ome Reflections: An ARchitect of the cApitol's insiDe View 12 T he heavy Maxwell House Coffee can thudded onto the wooden witness table as I juggled with my three-ring bind- ers. This was my second budget hearing before the House Appropriations Legisla- tive Branch Subcommittee. My first had been one year earlier during my days of innocence, exactly seven days after hav- ing been sworn in as the 10th Architect of the Capitol on 5 February 1997. At that time I had presented the bud- get prepared earlier by William (Bill) Ensign, who had been Acting Architect of the Capitol during Congress's search for George White's formal successor. Archi- tect White had served for almost 25 years as the Ninth Architect of the Capitol and had left mighty big shoes to fill. Now, one year later, I was on my own with the responsibility of making a strong and reasoned case for the entire Architect of the Capitol (AOC) budget, including the long-standing problem of the physical deterioration of the Capitol Dome. I was requesting $7.5 million to caref ully remove the many layers of paint applied to the Dome's inner surfaces over the years in order to perform an in-depth inspection of cracks and detect other problems. The goal would then be to create a master plan for the necessary remediation during our next phase of work in the following budget cycle. The coffee can (fig. 1) was a key prop in my presentation strategy. I planned to circulate it among the appropriators so that they could personally lift it and peer in, only to find that the 2 pounds of cof- fee had been replaced with 10 pounds of much heavier rust, rust collected from the deteriorating cast-iron dome of the United States Capitol. My message was, "Gentle- men, this is our Dome!" Just months earlier, at my nomination hearing before the Senate Rules and Administration Committee on 28 January 1997, I recounted the strong impact the THE CAPITOL DOME

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