CVC Watch

Posted September 10, 2007 at 6:52pm

It’s pretty obvious that a number of changes will take place around the Congressional complex once the Capitol Visitor Center opens. [IMGCAP(1)]

Visitors will be treated to perhaps the most informative experience in the building’s history. Staffers might find themselves working in new offices; a new cafeteria will open, providing another dining option on the campus.

Then there will be a change that is less obvious, but perhaps just as important: more restrooms.

There are 26 restrooms at the CVC, compared to the five public restrooms now available in the Capitol, according to CVC spokesman Tom Fontana.

The lack of public restrooms at the Capitol can be attributed to its history, Fontana said. When the original Rotunda and other parts of the Capitol were finished in 1829, running water had not yet been introduced there.

(That wouldn’t happen until 1832.)

So the restrooms that eventually were built at the Capitol were really afterthoughts, some of which Fontana described as “very small and woefully inadequate.”

The CVC is shooting for much better facilities, and those involved in the design of the center seemed to have put a lot of thought into the upcoming restrooms.

On average, ladies’ rooms are twice the size of men’s rooms, and 10 are family restrooms, something that is certain to come in handy for parents needing to tend to a child.

And all of the restrooms have accommodations for people with disabilities.

Work is nearly complete on those restrooms, as is much of the construction at the CVC — Fontana estimated that 97 percent of the construction is now finished.

So, many crew members are now focused on preparing the building for upcoming inspections.

Environmental conditions in the Exhibition Hall will continue to be monitored in preparation of a 60-day testing period of the hall’s environmental control systems.

Crews also will continue testing and balancing the facility’s air handling system and technicians will test the CVC’s complex fire- and life-safety systems.

Meanwhile, cleanup will take place throughout the site for upcoming inspections.

Aesthetics is the focus of much of what’s left construction-wise.

In the Congressional Auditorium, seat installation and carpeting are basically finished, leaving minor work to be done on stone finishes.

In the House Hearing Room, a contractor will continue efforts to install a large light fixture on the ceiling in the center of the room, and ceiling framework should be completed soon. In nearby meeting rooms and corridors, carpet installation is nearly finished.

In the Senate Recording Studio, cabling and cabinets are scheduled to be installed, while bronze rails are set to go in the Senate stairwell atrium.

At the CVC restaurant, masons are spending their week continuing work on the installation of stone countertops at the serving areas.