« PreviousContinue »
Mr. YATES. When did it do that?
This goes back some distance. We felt it would be advisable from many points of view to have somebody start over again, start from scratch and take a look at this thing.
The task force came to the same conclusion that we had already come to, so that the statement of the task force is preceded by a statement signed by Charles Nes as the president of the American Institute of Architects, and we are here representing the American Institute of Architects.
COMMENTS OF THE OFFICE OF THE ARCHITECT OF THE CAPITOL ON THE
REPORT OF THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS
Mr. ANDREWS. We shall also insert in the record the comments of the Office of the Architect of the Capitol on the report of the American Institute of Architects on conditions of the west front of the Capitol.
COMMENTS ON A REPORT ON CONDITIONS OF THE WEST FRONT OF THE CAPITOL DATED MARCH 24, 1967, ISSUED IN THE NAME OF THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS, WASHINGTON, D.C.
Authority for report: The report is not required by any law, nor was it requested by the Congress, the Commission in Charge of the Project, or the Architect of the Capitol.
Who issued this report: It was issued in the name of the American Institute of Architects, Washington, D.C. It is based on recommendations of a task force appointed by the President of the A.I.A. The task force is made up of two architects from Washington, D.C.; one from Detroit; one from Delaware; and one from Massachusetts.
Basis for selection of task force: Presumably the selection was made at the dis cretion of the A.I.A. President. The introduction includes a statement that such task force was to be completely objective, but it is interesting that the member ship of the task force included a leading opponent of the West Front Extension and no proponents.
What does the report represent: Although made in the name of the A.I.A., it represents essentially the same position taken by the A.I.A. leadership for the past several years. It has not been voted on at an A.I.A. convention by the delegates representing the various chapters. It represents the opinions of only a few mennbers of the Institute. An architect usually without exception likes to make up his own mind rather than having it made up for him by someone else. At the last A.I.A. convention, a motion condemning the West Front Extension was tabled by the delegates over the strenuous objections of the A.I.A. leadership.
As recently as a few days ago we were advised that the Committee for Preservation of Historic Buildings, Philadelphia Chapter, American Institute of Architects, had agreed to a resolution strongly recommending that the Chapter support the proposed Extension of the West Front of the Capitol.
Direction of the A.I.A. Task Force: According to the introduction in the report, the task force was instructed to determine (1) if restoration was impractical: (2) if restoration was too expensive, and (3) whether the proposed extension plan had validity. A search of the report reveals that the task force found restora tion not infeasible. On expense, it is stated, The American Institute of Architects does not know what the cost of restoration would be. Further, they make na mention of the validity of Plan 2 as recommended by the professional architects engineers engaged on the job and as approved by the Commission in Charge.
Time devoted to preparation of report: In recent weeks, we have heard tata. ments that the A.I.A. task force spent five months going over the Capitol from basement to attic. They came to the Capitol in mid-November 1966 and spent a portion of one day in the Architect's office and touring the interior and exterior et the building. This is in contrast to the time spent by our Engineer Consnltant who explored this problem from March 13, 1961, to September 22, 1965, and the
thorough and lengthy studies of the professional architects engaged on the project.
What is the reported A.I.A. position in 1967:
None of the defects in the structure appears to indicate the danger of collapse is imminent.
Retention and repair of the existing walls is not infeasible.
If restoration is decided upon, our technology is up to the task. Later in the report, they mention bringing in experts from Europe.
They have no cost estimate for the work. They admit restoration would be time-consuming and relatively expensive.
They support a program of preservation in the purest sense of the word.
They believe the planned extension of the West Front would be a mistake. What was the A.I.A. position in 1958 when they were also against the Extension of the East Front of the Capitol: Oddly enough, at that time, this organization said do not extend the East Front, but, instead, extend the West Front. Now, they admit the East Front has been successfully extended, but they say don't extend the West Front. This about-face on their part is clearly demonstrated by excerpts from several documents, as follows:
At the A.I.A. National Convention in Cleveland, in July 1958, the architects who led the fight for the A.I.A, against the East Front Extension were Ralph Walker, FAIA, Lorimer Rich, FAIA, and Douglas Haskell, AIA. They circulated a paper at the convention saving the practical space needs to be gained from the East Front Extension : could be achieved in better measure by extending the West Front, and without the threatened architectural sentimental damage ..
AIA Journal, January 1958, Architect Ralph Walker stated: ... everything that would be obtained by the predetermined plan ... that of moving the east front and also extending the wings, could be accomplished much more pleasantly, esthetically and efficiently by the reconstruction of the west front which has no great historic significance.
From the Washington Post, August 13, 1958, page A-15:
The AIA has a plan for providing much extra space by extending the West Front.
Nemo No. 178 of the American Institute of Architects, Washington, D.C., January 27, 1958:
It is believed that the space requirements could better be filled-at far less cost-by leaving the east front alone and, instead developing a proposed scheme for expansion on the west side of the building.
Hearing before a Subcommittee of the Commitee on Public Works, U.S. Senate, 85th Congress, on 8. 2883, February 17, 1958—Statement of Douglas Haskell (AIA) Editor of Architectural Forum, speaking as an individual and as a Member of the Committee to Preserve the National Capitol :
We have no reason to worry over architectural changes of this sort in the less masterly Capitol west front and the concern of architects at this point can be dismissed into the realm of rhetoric.
Mr. Chairman, the reason the east front extension is a boondoggel is that no practical effect is served that could not better be carried out on the western or terrace side, and with no architectural damage.
From the Washington Post, April 9, 1958, Page B-2:
Haskell said a better answer to Congressional space problems can be found on the west side of the Capitol where 'there will be no esthetic, controversy'.
From a "confidential" memorandum from one AIA Member to another Member in 1958:
In my opinion, one feasible solution would be an addition on the west side 10hich has ahoays had an undigested look...
ITEM BY ITEM COMMENT ON THE AIA REPORT AIA Report: On November 16 and 17, the Task Force met in Washington, having previously studied the Thompson and Lichtner engineering report and related material, individually.
Comment: This statement refers, in passing, to the task force studying, individually, the thorough and voluminous engineering report ordered by the Congress and made by an outstanding engineering firm. An examination of their conclusions, however, casts doubt upon this claim of studying the engineering report or, if studied, whether it was understood.
AIA Report: The Institute believes that Capitol Hill is the single most important land development in our Nation. We also believe that history will hold the architectural profession accountable for development of the Capitol and of Capitol Hill.
Comment: There is no law, rule, procedure or precedent which states or implies that the architectural profession is to be held accountable for the Capitol or Capitol Hill. Did the people of this country elect this one profession or one professional society as the guardian of the Capitol? Of course not. The Congress itself is responsible to the people of the Country for the Capitol and the development of Capitol Hill.
It is proper that the architects should show interest in the Capitol and the de velopment of Capitol Hill, but this same interest is just as dear to the landscape architects, and the various engineering societies; and we do not find them trying to dictate to the Congress or charging the Congress with indifference. Example: the American Society of Landscape Architects examined the extension plans and made suggestions which we accepted. That Society then agreed to take no posi. tion on the extension project in view of the fact that it has been in preparation for years with private and public knowledge and approval, and is in the hands of eminently qualified professional persons of high standing in their oron organiza. tions.
AIA Report: The West Front of the Capitol is in a state of disrepair. Numerous cracks are in evidence on the exterior of the building. Some window lintels and keystones have cracked and slipped. Several of the architrave stones have sagged. The foundations, at some points, are not far enough below the finish grade to escape frost damage. However, none of the defects appears to indicate that danger of collapse is imminent or that correction is impracticable. Sandstone
There is some professional opinion that the sandstone facing used on the past Front was inferior to begin with and its deterioration when exposed to the weather was predictable. Though this stone is obviously inferior to some other stones for exterior use, the same can be said of marble. In the Old Patent Office for example, there is no serious deterioration of the sandstone facing of the firs wing. Yet the adjoining wings of marble are badly deteriorated. The example is pertinent since the facing for the Capitol's West Front and the Old Patent Offiip building come from the same sandstone quarry. This suggests that the condition of the sandstone on the West Front may be partly due to causes other than the quality of the stone.
Comment: What the AIA refers to as disrepair could more correctly be labe mal structural deterioration. It is not just a case of scaling paint and eroding of the sandstone. The thousands of cracks and displaced stones are not repair items, hr** are due to the inherent structural weaknesses of the construction.
The condition and quality of the sandstone varies as was evidenced from ono work on the Extension of the East Front. We have records as early as 1793 indir cating the failure of the sandstone. The deterioration has been reported from time-to-time ever since.
George Washington on December 15, 1793, stated he was concerned that the freestone was of VERY soft nature.
William Thornton and Gus Scott-May 15. 1795, expressed disappointment in the quality of the stone and lamented that stone already sent had not be thought exceedingly fine in grain or strong in texture for the work to which it a to be applied.
George Blagden wrote on May 1, 1824 ... the freestone from the jelset quarries was extremely variable and that no reliance could be placed on strength or durability and lamented the capacity of the quarries.
Thomas U. Walter—March 29, 1838, comments in reference to the public bndings of Washington, the frailty of the material of which they are composed fe considered it a great evil that more durable stone was not used and that in 3 very few centuries the sandstone structures of Washington must inevitably perish.
The sandstone came from many quarries in Aqnia Creek area. It wonld the absolutely impossible to determine which stone came from which quarry. Cer: tainly. the stone for the Capitol and the Old Patent Office did not come from one quarry. There was great variance of the stone from the several quarries. During the construction of the Capitol and White House, sandstone was deliveres un either building site based on need at the time.
Sandstone was used only on part of the Patent Office Building, which Architect Robert Mills started in 1836; the middle and north sides were built of granite and marble. Incidentally, the sandstone is on the south side of the building where exposure to the elements is not as severe as on the north, east and west. But there is no doubt as to Mills' preference for a permanent building material when he wrote, “... in regard to the material of which the building should be constructed, there is no question in the choice between the freestone and the granite, or the marble. When the subject was under consideration with the President, I respectfully urged the adoption of the granite ..."
AIA Report-Cracks: Several of the architrave stones of the portico are definitely sagging and have been shored. Some window lintels and keystones have both cracked and slipped. The foundations, although below the finish grade, are subject to frost damage at several points. The basement wall of the center part of the SW corner in the court has also been shored. When the grade was lowered in this court the foundations thus exposed were veneered and it is this unbonded stone covering that has come loose from its back-up and required shoring, No cracks are in evidence on the interior but this is explained by the fact that constant repairs have kept pace with the cracks. The explanation given by the Assistant Architect of the Capitol that visible exterior cracks are due to settlement and expansion of the wall appears reasonable.
Comment: Also, the basement wall of the center part of the NW corner in the court has been shored.
It is suspected that many of the continuous cracks from top of wall to the foundations were the result of the terrific heat expansion produced by the burn. ing of the Capitol in 1814 by the British, the fire in the Library of Congress in the West Central Wing of the Capitol in 1851, and the gas explosion in the original Senate Wing in 1898. Cracks in individual stones are, undoubtedly, the result of uneven settlement of the exterior wall or the use of weak stones or a combination of both. Evidence of what can happen to sandstone which actually came from the same quarry as that used in the Capitol can be obtained by examining the standstone piers on Constitution Avenue, near the White House. There were many quarries at Aquia Creek which produced varying quality of standstonesome soft. friable, others less so.
The keystones are wedge shaped and could drop only by the spreading in length of the wall in which they are inserted. Under their present load, these keystones have already had motion and settlement in the walls of the west portion of the Capitol.
AIA Report: However, no visible effort has been made recently to fill these cracks in order at least to deter the penetration of moisture. Had this been done as the cracks appeared it is likely that the disgraceful appearance of the exterior surface due to scaling paint could have been avoided.
Comment: While the west central sandstone front has not been painted since 1960, it had been painted regularly every four to five years up to that time from 1819. At such times, the many cracks were pointed and painted over. However, the continuous expansion and contraction of these heavy masonry walls has reopened the cracks in the past prior to succeeding paint jobs, thereby admitting water which penetrated the stone and remained water-logged behind the paint, resulting in spalling from the effects of freezing and thawing. Inasmuch as it appeared Congress would seriously consider proceeding with the Extension of the West Central Front, the Appropriations Committees did not grant funds budgeted within recent years for painting the West Front.
414 Report: The Capitol Architect's staff engineer reports that the building is not out of plumb. Thus while the Capitol is experiencing some vertical settlement it is not slipping down the hill.
Comment: While the building may or may not be out of plumb (there is no survey to prove or disapprove this fact), there are bulges in the exterior. Slippage down the hill could occur without necessarily causing the walls to go out nf plumb. The following is from testimony before the Commission by the engiDeer retained :
*Speaker McCORMACK. Are any of the walls displaced or moved from the original position ?
**Dr. CLAIR. All the walls all around are displaced from the original position, sir. Anything from, as in the case of this one, of 3 or 4 inches, as the borings through the walls show, there is hardly a place that there is not a movement of the facing of the wall from the interior of the wall.
"Speaker McCORMACK. Are any parts of the wall displaced ?
"Dr. CLAIR. All of this wall is. We found hardly a place in the whole old west front, the old Senate wing, old House wing, and the old center section, that the wall has not been displaced.
"Speaker McCORMACK. Is the displacement stabilized or can it be expected to progress further?
"Dr. CLAIR. It is not stabilized. It is progressing and that is as indicated by the fact that there is an increasing number of cracks found in our investigation which did not show in a previous study several years ago.'
AIA Report: In short, none of the above-mentioned defects appears to indicate that danger of collapse is imminent or that correction is not practicable.
Comment: This statement is at variance with statement made by Dr. Clair at Hearings before the Extension of the Capitol Project Commission.
"STATEMENT BY DR. CLAIR AT HEARINGS BEFORE THE COMMISSION FOR EXTENSIOX
OF THE UNITED STATES CAPITOL, 89TH CONGRESS, FIRST SESSION ON THE CONDITION AND PROPOSED EXTENSION OF THE WEST CENTRAL FRONT OF THE U.S. CAPITOL, JUNE 24, 1965 :
"The fact is that this type of construction, if yon had eren a minor earthquake would lead I am sure to not only falling of the exterior stone but also, with that. partial collapse of these walls. That is one of the reasons it is desirable to put another structure here that can brace this structure. ...
"Mr. FORD. Is it developing at an accelerated rate?
"Dr. CLAIR. Sure it is, otherwise we would not have been able to find the difference in the few years between the previous observations, which are marked on here, and our observations of cracking. ...
“Speaker McCORMACK. Are there any dangerous conditions which require immediate attention? If so, what would be involved ?
"Dr. CLAIR. Well, just to work backward on this model. To correct the condition of the foundations at the retaining walls of the terrace, they would have be finderpinned. ...
"Dr. CLAIR. This must be done. Something must be done on this immediately, sir.
"Speaker McCORMACK. What do you mean by "immediately"?
"Dr. CLAIR. Next week. I am not kidding. I think it is so serious something should be done at once."
AIA Report: Subsequent events have proved the 1957 survey unreliable. (Space Survey.)
Comment: Like most forecasts, the 1957 survey produced the best information that could be developed at that time, but additional legislation, tremendous increase in population and jurisdictions have increased the requirements then anticipated, hence the need for greater space. While there has been no additional suvey since then we have kept track of space needs and are familiar with up-todate requirements.
AIA Report: It is quite possible that some of the functions now housed in the Capitol building could be moved to other new or existing buildings with no lose of efficiency.
Comment: The space needs made evident to us indicate that only such fupe tions which need to be in the Capitol are presently and proposed to be placed in the Capitol.
A14 Report: There is obviously a limit to the amount of space which can he added to the Capitol if it is to retain any resemblance to its original form-or even to the present building. Congress will presumably decide at some point not to make any more additions to the Capitol. We believe the Congress shonld make that decision now while the one remaining original wall can be saved as visible evidence of our heritage.
Comment: Such a decision, if made, should follow the Extension of the West Central Front of the Capitol. The extension will once again place the Capitol in sound structural condition and complete the revised composition of the desim begun with the addition of the present Senate and House Wings and the addition of the present dome more than 100 years ago. The "one remaining original wall" when built was not as it appears today, coated with more than 35 coats of mint cracked and patched. Cleaning and removing the paint would dastrov mora 9 the delicate carvings on column and pilaster caps, cornices, consoles, carved panels, etc. One has only to look at the glass covered portions of carvings on the old east front of the original Senate and House Wings to see the condition of the sandstone when exposed to the weather.