Architect of the Capitol

Watch: Capitol Christmas Tree arrives on the West Lawn
This year’s tree came from the Carson National Forest in New Mexico

Architect of the Capitol workers erect the Capitol Christmas Tree on the West Lawn Monday. The tree is from the Carson National Forest in New Mexico. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The 2019 Capitol Christmas Tree arrived on the West Lawn Monday, completing its nearly 2,000 mile journey from New Mexico’s Carson National Forest.

Two top Architect of the Capitol employees have left the agency after investigation
Senate Building Superintendent Takis Tzamaras and House Building Superintendent Bill Weidemeyer both left in July

Acting Architect of the Capitol Thomas Carroll. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two top employees at the Architect of the Capitol who oversaw building operations in the House and Senate are no longer working there, months after they were put on administrative leave while they were investigated for emails critical of Christine Merdon, the former head of the agency.

Senate Building Superintendent Takis Tzamaras and House Building Superintendent Bill Weidemeyer both left the agency in July. Tzamaras said he resigned and Weidemeyer said he retired.

Merdon out at AOC, Thomas Carroll named new acting architect
Search continues for permanent Architect of the Capitol

Acting Architect of the Capitol Christine Merdon resigned, and Thomas J. Carroll has been named to lead the agency. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Christine Merdon is out as acting Architect of the Capitol, and Thomas J. Carroll has been named to lead the agency on an acting basis as the search for a permanent AOC continues.

In an internal notice to AOC employees, Merdon said she had accepted a job outside of the agency.

Why the bike lane planned for Louisiana Avenue remains stalled

Greg Billing, Executive Director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, rides the gap in protected bike lane that stretches along Louisiana Avenue to Union Station. But the Senate Sergeant at Arms has put the brakes on plans for this protected bike path. (Nathan Ouellette/CQ Roll Call)

Downtown Washington, D.C., has a network of bike lanes, but there is there is a glaring gap at Louisiana Avenue near the Capitol.

Architect of the Capitol finds itself in court over discrimination cases
Court rules that second discrimination case can go forward

Acting Architect of the Capitol Christine Merdon. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Architect of the Capitol finds itself under fire for alleged discrimination, and could be headed to messy federal court fights over the matter.

A federal appeals court has ruled that a reasonable jury could agree with an AOC employee that he was discriminated against for his national origin when he was denied promotions in 2014 and 2015.

Heavy rains cause closure of tunnel between Rayburn and the Capitol ... again
Pedestrian walkway and one subway was closed temporarily

The pedestrian walkway in the Rayburn tunnel that connects to the Capitol floods due to heavy rain Monday. (Chris Marquette/CQ Roll Call)

As raindrops pummeled those walking to work on Capitol Hill, a heavy accumulation of water flooded the pedestrian walkway in the Rayburn House Office Building tunnel, causing it to be closed for about an hour.

The pouring rain overflowed into the pedestrian walkway connecting Rayburn to the Capitol and — although the subway furthest from the walkway experienced no interruption — the train closest to the flooding was not in service during the cleanup. 

Appeals court orders trial in discrimination suit involving Capitol architect's office
Employee alleged his name was mocked by hiring team considering his promotion

Acting Architect of the Capitol Christine Merdon. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A racial discrimination lawsuit filed by an Architect of the Capitol employee who was passed up for a promotion will move forward to trial after the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed a district court that had dismissed the case.

The appeals court found that Javier Mayorga, who emigrated to the U.S. from Nicaragua in 1990, presented evidence that could lead a jury to infer he was the victim of discrimination. An electronic industrial controls mechanic in the Capitol Superintendent’s Office, Mayorga has been an AOC employee since 2007. He has received numerous awards and his work was rated “outstanding” in his previous two evaluations, the court ruling said.

Just where is this secret House jail located?
A Capitol basement investigation yielded some answers

The Lincoln catafalque is seen Wednesday through bars in a chamber below the Capitol Crypt. Contrary to many a rumor, this is not the House jail. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi resurfaced one of the Capitol’s most enduring mysteries when answering a question about whether Democrats might imprison Trump administration officials who defy Congress: the House jail. But where is this mysterious cell?

“We do have a little jail down in the basement of the Capitol, but if we were arresting all of the people in the administration, we would have an overcrowded jail situation. And I’m not for that,” Pelosi said Wednesday at a Washington Post live event.

Native American representation on Capitol Hill concerns House lawmakers
Appropriators take aim at what they call offensive art and disrespectful tours

House Appropriators are urging the Architect of the Capitol to work with the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian to contextualize portrayals of Native Americans on Capitol Hill. Former Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., a member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe and pictured here, spoke at the opening of the museum in 2004. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call file photo.)

House lawmakers are raising issues about Native American representation in and around the Capitol — and they aren’t talking about the record number of Native American women in the 116th Congress.

A House Appropriations Committee report released Wednesday highlights disrespectful descriptions of Native Americans on Capitol tours and depictions in artwork around the Capitol campus, which “do not portray Native Americans as equals or Indian nations as independent sovereigns.” 

IG Report: Some members of Congress sexually harassed night-shift custodians
Architect of the Capitol officials accused of creating ‘culture of permissibility’

An Architect of the Capitol worker paints the wall at the top of the escalator to the Senate subway in the Capitol in November 2015. A recent report alleges a sexual harassment ‘culture of permissibility’ in the AOC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Members of Congress allegedly sexually harassed night shift custodial staff while they cleaned their offices. Sexual harassment prevention training went off the rails. And the Architect of the Capitol has no unified system for effectively tracking complaints and resolutions of sexual harassment cases.

These are just some of the findings in a recent inspector general’s report on sexual harassment within the AOC in the last decade.