U.S. Capitol Visitor Center will be built from the ground down

September 04, 2001 |

The new, 600,000-sq.-ft. U.S. Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) in Washington, D.C., will be constructed underground, beneath the East Front of the Capitol.

Expected to be complete for the Presidential Inauguration in 2005, the CVC will contain 588,000 square feet on three underground levels beneath the Capitol parking area and a landscaped plaza. The total cost of the project is estimated at $265 million.

The CVC will include two orientation theaters, historical displays, a museum, administrative offices, a cafeteria and a gift shop. It will accommodate about 5,000 visitors at any given time, allowing about 1,500 people per hour to tour the central Capitol and another 700 per hour to visit the House and Senate galleries.

Historic preservation measures will be necessary to protect the existing Capitol. The project includes repair and alterations to the existing Capitol, modifications to help facilitate the operation and meet revised codes, additional stairs and elevators in the Capitol, and tunneling under the existing House steps to connect the new structure to the Capitol.

To overcome security issues and to sustain the Capitol grounds during construction, the top/down construction method will be utilized on the project. With this method, the foundation wall is installed, followed by installation of caissons, columns and the ground-level slab. Then the area for the below-grade structure is excavated and the structure is constructed from the ground level down.

Architect of the Capitol, who designed the structure, has recently named Providence, R.I.-based Gilbane Building Co. construction manager for the project. Construction is anticipated to commence later this year.

For more information, visit www.aoc.gov/cvc/cvc_overview.htm.

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