The ceiling of the Capitol Rotunda during a media tour on Capitol Hill in Washington. A world-famous symbol of democracy is going under cover, as workers start a two-year renovation of the U.S. Capitol dome.
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COLUMBUS — An Ohio construction company will be working in Washington to help put the crumbling Capitol building dome back together.
Smoot Construction of Columbus was one of two companies awarded the $40.8 million renovation contract for the work, which will begin early next year, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
Smoot has done restoration and construction work on Union Station and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. It’s also one of three companies working on the new National Museum of African-American History on the National Mall, and is doing restoration work on the National Gallery of Art East Building.
Smoot is working with Turner Construction Co. of New York, which built the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial and the World War II Memorial.
The dome has towered over the city since 1863. The contractors will paint and repair it, removing any lingering lead, rehabilitate the dome and install additional lighting. Visitors to the building will see it cloaked in scaffolding for the next two years.
According to the architect of the Capitol, the dome, which is made of 8.9 million pounds of cast iron, has more than 1,300 cracks and deficiencies, primarily caused by age and weather. It was last restored in 1959 and 1960.
Pieces of the dome are loose, presenting a danger to those walking below. And in some areas, the dome is leaking, presenting a grave risk to the artwork inside.
“It really looks pristine and magnificent, but when you get up close, you can see with your own eye how deteriorated the building and the cast-iron work really is,” architect Stephen T. Ayers said. “It’s absolutely time for this work to happen.”
Both companies have been busy in Ohio, too. Smoot and Turner partnered for the expansion of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, as well as construction of the Hilton Columbus Downtown.
Smoot also is working on a $28 million student center at Central State University in Wilberforce, and will build Wright State’s $15 million Creative Arts Center in Dayton.
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