Visitors' Center for the US Capital Building

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Ed works for an Architectural / Engineering company that designed the new building that is to be the Visitor's Center for the Capital Building in Washington DC.

A bit of history:

The main Capital Building is about 775,000 square feet, and is a basic office building for the Congress. It was never meant to handle the 18,000 tourists that now go through it every day.

In 1991 Congress funded studies and planning that has along the years grown from a small place to just screen and educate the visitors to a huge addition of over 580,000 square feet on three levels, of additional office space, auditoriums and even two TV studios! It's now budgeted for about $400 million.

Here is the really interesting thing. This entire facility is to be all underground. When it is done, all that will be seen on the surface is a nice park area.

Of course, that large a building, to be all underground, takes a BIG hole. They started digging in the beginning of 2003, and after 40,000 dump trucks worth of dirt, the hole is finished and the building construction is progressing.

Here are some pictures of the beginning, taken by other people back at the beginning of the job, and a bunch of pictures taken in October showing the hole in its final size and the building starting to fill in.

(The official web site for the CVC is at: CVC Homepage

The Capital Building of the United States Congress.
This picture is taken from the east side of the building facing west. twords the National Mall, with the Washington Monument at the end (to the far left in this picture).
The logo of the new project.
The Capitol Building is on Capitol Hill (see red letters, far right). I work downtown between Dupont Circle (red letters, top center), and the White House, below and to the right of Dupont Circle.
From the south east side, looking north west, just as work was starting.
From the north east side, looking south west, just as work was starting.
The front steps of the Capital's east side. Notice where the stairs are, and keep watching for them in the rest of the pictures to keep things in scale.
The "pit" begins to form.
Demolotion of the East edge of the Capital Building

Looking down at the beginning of the pit, from the roof.
The excavation begins!

On the far left is the opening to a tunnel to the building next door, (for trucks to make their delivery).
Digging out the whole hole.
Getting close to the bottom.
The walls were made by cutting a trench into the ground, filling it with heavy mud so it doesn't collaps, then replacing the mud with concrete. It hardents, and then you can dig away one side. The rows of protrusions are cables set into the sides going into the un-excavated dirt to help hold up the walls.

Topping the Steel!
It is a tradition to attach a flag to the last piece of steel of a roof. Of course, in this job, the roof is at ground level!
Setting the steel columns to hold up the roof (that will be at ground level)!
Big Crane! Bigger pit!
While digging, they hit an old abandoned water well. The "pit" becomes a "swimming pool" !
Drill bit for the foundation piers, (the big round holes filled with steel & concrete)
The drilling machine cuts a slot-trench, fills it with mud that is later displaced with pumped concrete, making a foundation wall without having to dig all the basement first!
The drill bit system used to cut a sideways trench.
Guess who??
The opening under the Senate (North) side that will become a tunnel. (See me in the center?)
The design team walking around.
I chat with one of the regular inspectors.
Looking down from the roof into the pit, facing the Left
Looking down from the roof into the pit, facing the Center
Looking down from the front stairs into the pit, facing the Right
Looking down from the roof into the right side, with the metal roof being installed.
Looking up through the roof steel
Looking down from the roof into the National Mall, (FACING DUE WEST at the Washington Memorial, with the White House just to it's right)
Panorama from the roof, facing the East
Looking down from the roof into the pit, facing the Left
Looking down from the roof into the pit, facing center left.
Looking down into the pit from the street.
Panorama - looking into the tunnel below the Senate side
Up on the roof!

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