No Recess for AOC, CVC Teams

Posted August 1, 2008 at 5:24pm

As staffers relax after a hectic and contentious few weeks, other employees in the Capitol will be busy removing windows, restoring artwork and renovating committee rooms.

August recess is one of the few times each year that such work can be done without the constant interruption of a busy House and Senate. And with the Capitol Visitor Center set to open on Dec. 2, the Architect of the Capitol has a long list of chores.

But perhaps the biggest changes will be the installation of a “green ceiling” in the Rayburn Building subway and renovations in the Senate Daily Press Gallery.

Not only will the subway have high- efficiency light bulbs, but the ceiling tiles will be replaced with ones made from recyclable materials, said AOC spokeswoman Eva Malecki.

The press gallery will get modular furniture and telecommunications upgrades, she said.

Despite these projects, officials are still mainly focused on the CVC, which recently got its temporary certificate of occupancy.

Workers are bringing in the furnishings for offices and the equipment for the center’s operations. But staffers will have to wait awhile until they can crawl out of their cramped quarters and move into the state-of-the-art, underground space.

That move will have to wait until the temporary certificate is permanent, Malecki said.

“We’re waiting to see how that will proceed” before setting a schedule, she said.

Instead, in the next few weeks workers will begin to return the Capitol to its pre-CVC-construction state.

They will remove the “acoustical windows,” that were put on the Capitol’s East Front in 2002 to shield offices from construction noise.

The landscape also will get more plants and the temporary parking lot on the East Front’s north side will be restored to a grassy area, CVC spokesman Tom Fontana said.

CVC officials also will be conducting an “internal public relations campaign,” sending e-mails and letters to Members’ offices with information on what to expect from the center.

Most of the information will be on the CVC’s restaurant, gift shops and other amenities that will be available to visitors starting on Dec. 2, said Sharon Gang, the center’s communications manager.

“We’re going to use this time to bring them up to speed with as much detail as we can,” she said. “But it’s going to be a continuing effort.”

The House Chief Administrative Officer will also begin work on a public relations campaign, spokesman Jeff Ventura said. Posters will soon go up heralding the CAO’s new “Wheels 4 Wellness” program, which allows staffers to check out bikes from racks near the House side of the Capitol. Ideas include showing staffers how far they can travel on a bike compared with walking.

But overall, Ventura said, “it’s a lot of business as usual” for the office over recess.

In the Senate, meanwhile, workers will continue updating committee rooms with new audio-visual systems. Other renovations include a new marble landing at the Cannon House Office Building’s northeast entrance and repairing the New Jersey Avenue sidewalk near the entrance to the Cannon Building.

The Rayburn House Office Building’s barber shop also will get a few touch-ups: Workers will install new hardwood floors and cabinets. Other projects include testing the fire alarm system in the Capitol, beginning conservation on the Capitol’s Constantino Brumidi murals and building a new exit in the Longworth House Office Building.