WEST JORDAN — Much of the U.S. Capitol Building is made of stone, but many Americans would be surprised to learn that the dome itself is made of cast iron designed to look like stone. Now that dome is in need of some repairs.
“Over the years, the cast iron has started to crack and break as waterproofing has failed,” said Robert Baird, vice-president of Historical Arts & Casting in West Jordan.
Baird's company just finalized a contract to play a major role in the hugely expensive project of fixing the Capitol dome.
Decades ago, Historical Arts & Casting pioneered the art of preserving historical metal structures when it restored the iron façade of Z.C.M.I. Now it will take part in a major restoration project on the Capitol, which is just getting underway.
Most repairs will be done in the building itself, but the iron pieces in the worst shape will be shipped to Utah for replacement.
“We’ll use those original parts as models to create new components that will be the exact size and shape that will go back into that building,” Baird said.
First, his workers will create a wooden pattern that matches the iron piece. The pattern is used to make a mold out of stiff, oily sand.
Then, molten metal is poured into the sand-mold to make the new metal piece that will go back to Washington.
“We’re pretty confident that we can get it done in two years, and certainly before the next presidential inauguration,” said Stephen Ayers, architect of the U.S. Capitol.
Helping with the Capitol dome restoration is “an honor,” Baird said, but it’s one that comes with some pressure. The nation will be watching and the repair job has to hold up for at least a century or two.