Ayers Nominated to Be Architect of the Capitol

Posted February 23, 2010 at 7:39pm

Updated: 9:22 p.m.

President Barack Obama nominated Stephen Ayers to be the Architect of the Capitol on Tuesday, a significant step toward filling the three-year-old vacancy.

“This is a tremendous honor. It has been a privilege to lead the AOC organization and work with such a professional workforce dedicated to serving the Congress and the American people by maintaining and preserving the U.S. Capitol complex,” Ayers, who has been the acting Architect, said in a statement. “I appreciate the trust the Congress and the Leadership has placed in me, and I thank President Obama for nominating me. I am extremely proud to be a part of the AOC team, and look forward to the work and the challenges ahead.”

Architect Alan Hantman retired in 2007, and the search for his replacement stalled almost immediately. A Congressional panel recommended three candidates to the White House, but one soon removed his name from the list and then-President George W. Bush never made a nomination.

Since then, Ayers has run the office in an acting capacity, overseeing all the maintenance and construction of Congressional buildings. Under his watch, the Capitol Visitor Center was completed — a controversial $621 million project that began under Hantman.

It’s unclear what prompted Obama to finally nominate Ayers, who had long been rumored to be on the original list of candidates Congress sent to the White House. Recently, House Members have tried to remove the White House from the nomination process, introducing a bill that would give Congress the sole authority to appoint an Architect. It passed the House by voice vote earlier this month.

If the Senate confirms Ayers, he will serve a 10-year term.

In a statement, House Administration ranking member Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) said he was “confident that Stephen will continue to serve this institution with the integrity and professionalism he has demonstrated during his tenure.”

“Since taking over as Acting Architect in 2007, Stephen has demonstrated the caliber of leadership required to run such an intricate organization charged with the important responsibility of preserving and enhancing the Capitol complex for Members, staff and the millions of visitors who pass through each year,” he said.