|United States Capitol Visitor Center|
|Type||Underground visitor's center|
|Location||United States Capitol Complex|
|Town or city||Washington, D.C.|
|Construction started||June 20, 2000|
|Opened||December 2, 2008|
|Structural system||Type I – Fire Resistive (steel and concrete)|
|Floor count||Three floors|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||RTKL Associates Inc.|
|Structural engineer|| Balfour Beatty |
(formerly Centex Construction)
|Main contractor||Manhattan Construction Company|
The United States Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) is a large underground addition to the United States Capitol complex which serves as a gathering point for up to 4,000 tourists 580,000 square feet (54,000 m2) of space below ground on three floors. The overall project's budget was $621 million.and an expansion space for the US Congress. It is located below the East Front of the Capitol and its plaza, between the Capitol building and 1st Street East. The complex contains
The CVC has space for use by the Congress, including multiple new meeting and conference rooms. On the House side, there is a large room which will most likely be used by a committee. The new Congressional Auditorium, a 450-seat theater, will be available for use by members of Congress or for either House of Congress should their respective chamber be unavailable.
The CVC officially opened on December 2, 2008. This date was selected to coincide with the 145th anniversary of placing Thomas Crawford's Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol building in 1863, signifying the completion of construction of its dome.
The CVC contains three underground levels: a balcony level entrance, the Emancipation Hall (second) level and a third restricted level for new Congressional offices and meeting rooms. The construction of the CVC represents the largest-ever expansion of the United States Capitoland more than doubles the footprint of the US Capitol building complex.
The American Institute of Architects gave RTKL Associates Inc. with the Award of Excellence in Historic Resources for their work on the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. The award was presented at the Architecture Week Closing Party & Design Awards Gala on September 30, 2010, in Washington, D.C.
Construction of the CVC was supervised by the Architect of the Capitol. That post was held by Alan Hantman, FAIA until his term expired on February 4, 2007; construction was then continued by then Acting Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers, AIA, LEED AP.
The ceremonial groundbreaking for the CVC took place on June 20, 2000.Although originally planned to be completed by January 2004, the final completion date (not including the Senate and House expansion space) was extended to December 2, 2008. The proposed cost was originally $71 million, but it has risen to $621 million. The CVC has caused controversy for being over budget and behind schedule. Much of this is blamed on the rising cost of fuel, post-9/11 security measures, and inclement weather. At a hearing on the CVC cost-overruns Representative Jack Kingston called it "a monument to government inefficiency, ineptitude and excessiveness."
The first major construction contract, worth nearly $100 million, was awarded to Balfour Beatty (formerly Centex Construction), in the spring of 2002.This contract involved site demolition, slurry wall construction, excavation, construction of columns, installation of site utilities, construction of the concrete and structural steel, waterproofing, and construction of a new service tunnel. By July 2005, Balfour Beatty Construction completed all excavation and structural activities, and the roof deck covered the entire CVC structure.
Manhattan Construction Company was responsible for the build-out including, installation of electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems, coordination with existing Capitol building systems where the center connects within the Capitol building, and completion of the above-ground East Front Plaza, with related site work and security elements.
The space is mainly designed for use as a holding zone for visitors waiting to take tours of the Capitol. The number of annual visitors to the Capitol has tripled from 1,000,000 in 1970 to nearly 3,000,000 as of recent times, and it has become difficult to deal with the congestion caused by such crowds.In the past, visitors were required to line up on the Capitol's east stairs, sometimes stretching all the way to 1st Street East. This wait could last hours and no protection was offered against inclement weather. Tickets were not timed and were on a first-come, first-served basis.
With the addition of the CVC, visitors now have a secure, handicap-accessible, and educational place to wait before their Capitol tours commence. Visitors are free to explore the CVC, which houses an exhibition hall, two gift shops, and a 530-seat food court.Visiting the CVC and the Capitol are free. Tickets for Capitol tours are also free and are available online for order ahead of time.
Emancipation Hall is the main hall of the CVC and measures in at 20,000 square feet (1,900 m2). It was originally designated the Great Hall, but this was changed to Emancipation Hall when a bill cosponsored by Congressman Zach Wamp and Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. was passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush in January 2008. Emancipation Hall contains two large skylights, which each measure 30 feet (9.1 m) by 70 feet (21 m) and allow for a view of the Capitol dome never before seen. The skylights allow a significant amount of natural light into the hall and are surrounded by pools of water and seating on the roof deck.
The Hall displays the original 1857 plaster cast of the Statue of Freedom , the bronze statue that stands atop the Capitol dome. It was moved to the Hall from the basement rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building, across Constitution Avenue from the Capitol, where it had stood since January, 1993.
The Hall also displays 24 statues of the National Statuary Hall Collection.The complete collection is made up of two statues from each state. The statues are donated by their respective state to honor notable residents. In the past years, all 100 statues have been housed in the Capitol, many in Statuary Hall. This has led to overcrowding of statues and relocating some of them to Emancipation Hall has allowed for some space to be reclaimed. According to the Acting Architect of the Capitol Steven T. Ayers, more-recently added statues have been given preference for a move to Emancipation Hall.
On April 28, 2009, a bust of Sojourner Truth was dedicated in Emancipation Hall.
The Exhibition Hall includes an 11-foot (3.4 m) high tactile polyurethane model of the Capitol dome. The hall is dominated by a pair of curving 93-foot (28 m) marble walls lined with artifacts and interactive touch-screen displays. Included in the collection are documents signed by George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Six scale models of the complete Capitol illustrate how the building expanded over time. Two alcoves off the main Exhibition Hall hold large flat screen televisions to allow viewers to watch live telecasts of the House and Senate floor proceedings. A third alcove located behind the tactile dome model on the main axis of the Capitol holds the Lincoln catafalque, which used to be displayed in the basement beneath the crypt. It closed in March 2019 to undergo renovations and is expected to reopen in 2021.
Two theaters located above the Exhibition Hall continuously show a 13-minute video on the history of Congress and the Capitol Complex. Visitors enter the theaters at the Emancipation Hall (lower) level and exit at the staging (upper) level. The theaters will show the same film, but on a staggered schedule to allow a smooth flow of tourists into the Capitol.[ citation needed ]
Off of Emancipation Hall are two gift shops, one at the north end of the Hall and on at the south end.These replace the single gift shop previously located in the Capitol Crypt.
The CVC includes a 530-seat food court, which is expected to alleviate overcrowding in the cafeterias in the Congressional office buildings.
About 170,000 square feet (16,000 m2) has been reserved for use by Congress. Much of the space is for a new Congressional Auditorium. Most of the rest of the space will be made into committee meeting rooms.
A number of tunnels were constructed as part of the CVC project. The first is a 1,000-foot (300 m) long truck service tunnel, whose entrance is located north of Constitution Avenue near the underground Senate parking garage. Its goal is to alleviate traffic on the plaza and to enhance security by checking delivery and service trucks at a safe distance from the Capitol itself. A second tunnel was constructed to connect the CVC to the Library of Congress. Part of East Capitol Street was closed during construction and the tunnel was completed in the winter of 2005.
The high cost of building the Capitol Visitor Center has been an ongoing source of controversy for the project. Time magazine projected the total cost to be nearly $600 million.Critics cited its three auditoriums, the largest cafeteria in Washington, and a tunnel that links the Capitol Visitor Center to the Library of Congress as a symbol of federal and Congressional overspending.
In addition to the controversy attendant upon the repeated delays and cost overruns, Republicans have criticized the center for what they view as insufficient coverage of American religious heritage. Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina said that the CVC fails to "appropriately honor our religious heritage that has been critical to America's success." Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich started a petition seeking to more prominently recognize religion at the Center. At the time of its construction, the CVC had a plaque which declared the national motto to be "E Pluribus Unum," a traditionally used motto, but not the official United States motto. It has since been changed to the official motto, "In God We Trust."Some of these controversies were briefly addressed by Beth Plemmons, Chief Executive Officer for Visitor Services at the Capitol Visitor Center, during her testimony on May 16, 2018, at a hearing before the Committee on House Administration, U.S. House of Representatives.
The United States Capitol, often called the Capitol Building, is the meeting place of the United States Congress and the seat of the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government. It is located on Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C.. Though no longer at the geographic center of the federal district, the Capitol forms the origin point for the district's street-numbering system and the district's four quadrants.
The Statue of Freedom, also known as Armed Freedom or simply Freedom, is a bronze statue designed by Thomas Crawford (1814–1857) that, since 1863, has crowned the dome of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. Originally named Freedom Triumphant in War and Peace, a U.S. government publication now states that the statue "is officially known as the Statue of Freedom." The statue depicts a female figure bearing a military helmet and holding a sheathed sword in her right hand and a laurel wreath and shield in her left.
National Statuary Hall is a chamber in the United States Capitol devoted to sculptures of prominent Americans. The hall, also known as the Old Hall of the House, is a large, two-story, semicircular room with a second story gallery along the curved perimeter. It is located immediately south of the Rotunda. The meeting place of the U.S. House of Representatives for nearly 50 years (1807–1857), after a few years of disuse in 1864 it was repurposed as a statuary hall; this is when the National Statuary Hall Collection was established. By 1933 the collection had outgrown this single room, and a number of statues are placed elsewhere within the Capitol.
The Texas State Capitol is the capitol building and seat of government of the American state of Texas. Located in downtown Austin, Texas, the structure houses the offices and chambers of the Texas Legislature and of the Governor of Texas. Designed in 1881 by architect Elijah E. Myers, it was constructed from 1882 to 1888 under the direction of civil engineer Reuben Lindsay Walker. A $75 million underground extension was completed in 1993. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1986.
The Russell Senate Office Building is the oldest of the United States Senate office buildings. Designed in the Beaux-Arts architectural style, it was built from 1903 to 1908 and opened in 1909. It was named for former Senator Richard Russell Jr. from Georgia in 1972. It occupies a site north of the Capitol bounded by Constitution Avenue, First Street, Delaware Avenue, and C Street N.E..
The Cannon House Office Building, often called the "Old House Office Building," completed in 1908, is the oldest congressional office building as well as a significant example of the Beaux-Arts style of architecture. It occupies a site south of the United States Capitol bounded by Independence Avenue, First Street, New Jersey Avenue, and C Street S.E. In 1962 the building was named for former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Joseph Gurney Cannon.
The Vermont State House, located in Montpelier, is the state capitol of the U.S. state of Vermont. It is the seat of the Vermont General Assembly. The current Greek Revival structure is the third building on the same site to be used as the State House. Designed by Thomas Silloway in 1857 and 1858, it was occupied in 1859.
The Virginia State Capitol is the seat of state government of the Commonwealth of Virginia, located in Richmond, the third capital city of the U.S. state of Virginia. It houses the oldest elected legislative body in North America, the Virginia General Assembly, first established as the House of Burgesses in 1619.
The Rayburn House Office Building (RHOB) is a congressional office building for the U.S. House of Representatives in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C., between South Capitol Street and First Street.
The United States Capitol Complex is a group of about a dozen buildings and facilities in Washington, D.C., that are used by the U.S. Federal government. The buildings and grounds within the complex are managed and supervised by the Architect of the Capitol.
The Kansas State Capitol, known also as the Kansas Statehouse, is the building housing the executive and legislative branches of government for the U.S. state of Kansas. Located in the city of Topeka, which has served as the capital of Kansas since the territory became a state in 1861, the building is the second to serve as the Kansas Capitol.
The Oregon State Capitol is the building housing the state legislature and the offices of the governor, secretary of state, and treasurer of the U.S. state of Oregon. It is located in the state capital, Salem. Constructed from 1936 to 1938 and expanded in 1977, the current building is the third to house the Oregon state government in Salem. The first two capitols in Salem were destroyed by fire, one in 1855 and the other in 1935.
The oldest of the four United States Library of Congress buildings, the Thomas Jefferson Building was built between 1890 and 1897. It was originally known as the Library of Congress Building and is located on First Street SE, between Independence Avenue and East Capitol Street in Washington, D.C. The Beaux-Arts style building is known for its classicizing facade and elaborately decorated interior. Its design and construction has a tortuous history; the building's main architect was Paul J. Pelz, initially in partnership with John L. Smithmeyer, and succeeded by Edward Pearce Casey during the last few years of construction. The building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965.
The United States Capitol Preservation Commission was established under Title VIII of Public Law 100-696 in November 1988 for the purpose of providing for improvements in, preservation of, and acquisitions for the United States Capitol and other locations under the control of the Congress. In September 1999, the commission was given the responsibility, pursuant to Public Law 106–57, for approving the planning, engineering, design, and construction milestones of the Capitol Visitor Center (CVC). The CVC will be a facility, located under the East Plaza of the Capitol that is designed to enhance the experience of visitors to the Capitol through improved visitor orientation and related services, strengthened Capitol security, and integration of the center's design concepts with the appropriate improvements to the Capitol's East Plaza.
The United States Capitol rotunda is the central rotunda of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., built 1818–1824. It is located below the Capitol dome, built 1857–1866; the later construction also extended the height of the rotunda walls. It is the tallest part of the Capitol and has been described as its "symbolic and physical heart".
Philip Reed also Philip Reid was an African American master craftsman who worked at the foundries of self-taught sculptor Clark Mills, where historical monuments such as the 1853 equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square, near the White House in Washington, D.C., the 1860 equestrian statue of George Washington in Washington Circle, and the 1863 Statue of Freedom in Washington D.C., were created. He was born in c. 1820 into slavery in South Carolina's historic city of Charleston and was emancipated on April 16, 1862, under the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act After his emancipation, he assisted Mills in installing the Statue of Freedom atop the United States Capitol, which was completed on December 2, 1863. Reid began working as an enslaved apprentice to Mills in 1842, as a young man in his twenties, who was already recognized for his talents in the foundry industry. In the 1860s, after having worked at the foundry for almost two decades, Reid's skills in working with bronze casting were recognized. In 1928, Tennessee Representative, Finis J. Garrett presented a paper honoring Reid for his "faithful service and genius", and describing the key role he had played in casting the statue of Freedom, that is now part of the Congressional Record. A memorial plaque honoring Philip Reed was unveiled on April 16, 2014—the 152nd anniversary of Emancipation in Washington, D.C.—in the National Harmony Memorial Park in Hyattsville, Maryland. It reads, "Philip Reed The slave who built the Statue of Freedom atop the U.S. Capitol died a free man on February 6, 1892 and is buried here..." In 2013, he was described by the Architect of the Capitol as the "single best known enslaved person associated with the Capitol’s construction history".
The Hall of Columns is a more than 100-foot-long (30 m) hallway lined with twenty-eight fluted columns in the south wing extension of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. It is also the gallery for eighteen statues of the National Statuary Hall Collection.
The United States Capitol dome is the dome situated above the rotunda of the United States Capitol. The dome is 288 feet (88 m) in height and 96 feet (29 m) in diameter. It was designed by Thomas U. Walter, the fourth Architect of the Capitol, and constructed between 1855 and 1866 at a cost of $1,047,291.
George Hadfield was born in Livorno, Italy of English parents, who were hotel-keepers. He studied at the Royal Academy, and worked with James Wyatt for six years before emigrating to the United States. He was also the brother of Maria Cosway, a famous painter who is best noted for her alleged affair with Thomas Jefferson, when he was the Ambassador to France between 1785–1789.
Sojourner Truth is a public artwork by Canadian sculptor Artis Lane, located in Emancipation Hall at the United States Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C. It was the first statue honoring an African-American woman in the U.S. Capitol building.
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