August 28, 2009 — Lasers will clean the capitals atop the columns at Pavilion II on the Lawn at the University of Virginia next week – their first cleaning since they were installed nearly two centuries ago.
Milner and Carr Conservation Associates will do the cleaning, beginning Monday. This work on the capitals is part of a project that included an extensive interior renovation of Pavilion II.
"The lasers will be neater and cause less damage to the stone," said Brian Hogg, senior historic preservation planner with the Office of the Architect for the University. "And there is so much traffic in that area, the lasers will cause less disruption."
Hogg said the Carrera marble ionic capitals have accumulated atmospheric pollutants such as coal smoke for about 180 years and have been severely discolored. He said the cleaning should restore their original bright white color. The lasers will create no falling debris.
Pedestrian traffic will be diverted. For safety reasons, people are advised to stay a minimum of 15 feet away from the lasers. The immediate cleaning area will be roped off.
Hogg estimated it would take the conservators about a day and half to clean each of the four capitals.