Scaffolding at U.Va.'s Rotunda to Aid Conservators

July 2, 2010 — Temporary scaffolding will be erected in and around the University of Virginia’s Rotunda starting Friday, allowing conservators to inspect the domed roof and the capitals atop the columns.

The capitals have suffered cracking over time due to the elements and have been wrapped and covered for the past three months to prevent further damage. Conservators from Milner & Carr Conservation of Philadelphia will examine the capitals.

"The results of these tests should provide the conservators and University officials with information that will help to advance the decision-making process regarding the repair and/or replacement of the capitals," said James Zehmer, historic preservation project coordinator for the University.

John G. Waite Associates of Albany, N.Y., will examine the Rotunda roof, which is made of metal and was installed in the 1970s.

"The dome roof is reaching the end of its useful life," said Brian Hogg, senior preservation planner in the Office of the Architect.

Hogg said there will be some phased restoration work at the Rotunda, with the roof and the capitals being among the first items to handled.

The Rotunda will remain open for Independence Day weekend. Scaffolding will be erected inside the Dome Room, which will be closed from July 6 to July 12. Two scaffold towers on the north portico will hamper traffic at the east and west ends. Two towers, a larger one and a smaller one, on the south portico will limit circulation in that area.

The exterior scaffolding is expected to be removed by July 16.

Hogg estimated that reports on the Rotunda should be completed by the end of the summer. He said work plans could be presented to the Board of Visitors in the spring.