Architect of the Capitol

Asbestos removal set to begin in Russell, Dirksen buildings
Work will take place overnight and not during normal work hours

Asbestos removal set to begin in the Russell and Dirksen Senate office buildings. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Architect of the Capitol will begin removing materials containing asbestos from two Senate office buildings on Saturday, with some of the work expected to continue through April.

Workers on Saturday will be removing waterproofing that contains asbestos from the northwest terrace of the Russell Building at the corner of Delaware Avenue and C Street NE and floor tiles in the Dirksen Building, according to the Senate Superintendent’s office.

Does the Capitol Dome have a leak? Not quite
Yellow buckets in Rotunda collect dripping water

The Capitol Rotunda was dripping Tuesday morning. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

On day 32 of the longest government shutdown in modern history, it looked like an iconic symbol of American democracy had sprung a leak.

The Capitol Dome, which reaches 287 feet tall, recently underwent a $60 million restoration. But something was amiss Tuesday morning. 

Ready to manage a world-famous building and grapple with a billion-dollar backlog? This job’s for you
Hunt for new Architect of the Capitol underway

The search for a new Architect of the Capitol is underway, led by executive search firm JDG Associates. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Do you like historic buildings? Are you undaunted by the prospect of working with tenants who are also your bosses and can’t seem to agree on much of anything? 

Then this job is for you.

Cindy Hyde-Smith to lead Senate Legislative Branch spending panel
Mississippi Republican takes over from Montana’s Steve Daines

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., will chair the Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee for the new Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith will take the gavel of the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee for the new Congress. The Mississippi Republican is a relative newcomer to the panel, which she joined in April of last year, taking the slot left open by her predecessor Thad Cochran’s resignation.

The subcommittee’s previous chairman, Montana’s Steve Daines, received a waiver to join the Senate Finance Committee, becoming among the first senators to serve on Appropriations and Finance since 1944. (Oklahoma’s James Lankford was given a similar waiver.)

Other DC spots are closed. But Capitol tourism is booming
The Capitol Visitor Center is open, partial shutdown or no — and tourists are taking note

There have been more visitors to the Capitol so far this month than usual as other attractions on the National Mall are closed due to the partial government shutdown. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Other attractions on the National Mall are locked up tight, but one tourist spot is seeing a traffic boom.

More visitors than usual have come to the Capitol so far this month, even as a partial government shutdown puts a damper on the best-laid plans of D.C. vacationers. 

Office Nameplates Go Up, Incoming Lawmakers Get Giddy
Noobs won’t have access until January

The name plates went up outside the offices of incoming House lawmakers and they're giddy about their workspaces coming together. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers admired their new digs coming together this week as Hill workers posted nameplates outside offices.

Newcomers picked their offices back during orientation and got to tour them, but they still had someone else’s name out front. This week the traditional plaques with new member’s names and districts are being installed outside their offices. And the freshman class of the 116th Congress is psyched.

Listen to the New Sing-Song Warning for Senate Subway Riders
A new disembodied voice now rings out in the Russell trains

New audio warnings have been added for riders on the Senate subway. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

There’s a new soundtrack in the Senate basement this week, with the addition of audio warnings for riders on the Russell trains.

“Stand clear, the doors are closing,” says the announcement, which follows a few musical tones. 

Russell Building Evacuated After Fire
Saturday night incident under investigation, building still closed Sunday

A fire broke out in the Russell Senate Office Building Saturday night. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Fire and smoke in the Russell Senate Office Building prompted an evacuation Saturday night. The building remains closed Sunday morning.

Capitol Police and the Architect of the Capitol personnel are conducting an investigation and all other personnel will be restricted from entering the building.

Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers Stepping Down
Search for replacement to oversee Capitol infrastructure could take a while

Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers, left, here with Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., at a 2014 news conference about the Capitol Dome Restoration Project, is retiring. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The man with the biggest portfolio on Capitol Hill will be stepping down at the end of November. Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers will be leaving his post after ascending to the top job over a 20-year career with the agency.

The architect of the Capitol oversees the upkeep and preservation of more than 17.4 million square feet of facilities and 580 acres of grounds on the Capitol campus. That includes the historic House and Senate office buildings, the Capitol itself, thousands of works of art and even the trees that dot the campus.

What Congress Wants to Study and ‘Explore’ About Itself
Dunkin’ Donuts, horse mounted police and leaky Cannon tunnel all will get consideration

Congress wants studies on police horses, flooding in the Cannon Tunnel, Senate child care and more. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

What to do with some basement ambience, Horse-mounted police and Dunkin’ Donuts are but a few questions appropriators want answered as they look to fund Congress and its agencies to the tune of $4.8 billion.The fiscal year 2019 appropriations conference committee report released Monday includes reporting requirements and requests for studies and explorations. Here are just a few: 

Conferees had some real talk about the tunnel that connects the Cannon House Office Building to the Capitol:“The current condition of the Cannon tunnel is that of a basement ambience,” said the report, “Furthermore the tunnel is subject to leaks which have recently caused the tunnel to be closed.”The report directs the Architect of the Capitol and the  Clerk of the House to develop a comprehensive plan to “enhance the tunnel,” including cost estimates, timeline, and renderings.