CVC Watch

Posted July 16, 2007 at 6:27pm

An important structural and symbolic milestone was recently reached at the Capitol Visitor Center.

The facility, which will serve as the entrance point for perhaps 3 million Congressional visitors during its first year of operation, now has a front door.

Or, more specifically, 16 front doors.

In recent weeks, construction crews finished installing the 12-foot-tall bronze doors in the CVC’s entrance zone, which also will serve as the main security screening area and exit point for visitors. [IMGCAP(1)]

The installation of “finish materials” such as doors and light fixtures makes up a major part of the construction that still needs to be completed at the massive underground center scheduled to open next fall.

In the CVC Great Hall, some 22 custom bronze light fixtures were recently installed and carpet and millwork finishing is nearing completion in several areas such as the House and Senate expansion spaces. In the new 450-seat Congressional Auditorium, most of the chairs have been put in place and display case components are being added in the Exhibition Hall. Meanwhile, audiovisual contractors have begun testing the sound system in the Orientation Theaters, where visitors will see a 13-minute film prior to taking tours of the Capitol.

Heavy lifting is still taking place in the East Front transition zone on the Crypt level of the CVC, where wall stone installation is nearing completion and floor stone installation is about 75 percent complete.

Outside the CVC, stone installation also is still taking place along with landscaping and grading activities, which will allow work crews to begin sod replacement in areas that have been dirt-covered throughout the construction project.

Acting Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers has indicated that the AOC currently is in the midst of tackling the many operational issues that face the CVC before opening day, including the development of a new advanced reservations system, the creation of a CVC Web site, stocking and staffing the CVC’s two gift shops, developing a transportation plan for visitors, and reaching out to community, tour industry and business groups with a public information campaign regarding the CVC.

Terrie Rouse, who recently was hired to run the CVC as chief executive officer for visitor services, is expected to be on Capitol Hill next week to meet with AOC officials about the center’s operations.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch is scheduled to hold one more progress hearing on the CVC before the August recess.

Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) has promised that officials from the the AOC’s main contractor, Manhattan Construction, and the CVC’s project management firm, Gilbane Building Co., will testify at that hearing.

The CVC contractors have never appeared as scheduled witnesses in past hearings, but they occasionally were called on to answer specific questions during some of the 15 monthly progress hearings Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.) held on the CVC during the 109th Congress.