tv U.S. Capitol Historical Society Freedom Award to Architect of the Capitol CSPAN January 6, 2019 1:15pm-2:00pm EST
>> next, recently retired architect of the capitol, stephen ayers speaks at the u.s. capitol historical society 2018 freedom awards ceremony. his official portrait is unveiled. he served as architect of the capitol from 2010 until late november. this is about 45 minutes. >> good evening, everyone. i would like to ask everyone in the audience to please rise as the capitol police ceremonial unit presents our nation's colors. >> forward march.
shoulder, -- >> thank you very much. you may be seated. welcome to all of you tonight. i am don carlson. i have the honor of serving as chairman of the u.s. capital historical societies board of trustees. before i bring our first speaker to the podium, i would like to add a note that we may have some
minor changes in the schedule tonight to accommodate congressional schedules so it , may not be exactly as you find in your program, but please bear with us as we try to accommodate that. it is with great pleasure that i introduce our first speaker, the chairman of the senate committee on rules and administration, vice chair of the joint congressional committee on the library, a fellow u.s. capital historical society trustee, who has just agreed to serve another term, and our host this evening, senator roy blunt of missouri. [applause] >> thank you. it is great to be here with all of you, and great to be here on this occasion. thanks for your leadership at the u.s. capital historical society.
there is without doubt in my mind no other building anywhere in the world like it, a symbol of democracy and freedom. the actual footprint of the capital has not changed much since 1860, and the capital is full of stories. one of which would be that when the two wings are added in the decade before the civil war, the member of congress most instrumental in deciding to expand the capital, then as secretary of war, responsible for building the wings, then defending the cost overruns, which is not an unusual thing, was jefferson davis. the only thing he got to do was explain why he was leaving in the new building because his state was leaving, but it is a building full of stories. i don't think there is any
building as open in the world for people to walk through where great things happen every day and significant history is made every day, but history is honored there every day, even with difficult times. neither the congress nor the architect of the capitol have advocated limiting people's access. we did decide a few years ago to create a better visitor experience, both a safer experience and built as much capital underground as was above ground, but the aboveground ground capital has not changed much. there was a late 1950's addition where two rooms and the space was filled in, but it is an incredible building with an incredible heritage and incredible story told every day. it would not be an easy thing to sign up to be responsible for that building. it would not be an easy thing to
decide you were going to be the person who would take the responsibility for protecting, continuing to make open, for trying to do your best that people saw everything that was reasonably there to be seen, but that is what stephen ayers decided to do. as he leaves his job as the architect of the capitol, 22 years after he got here, leaving service in the military where he was an architect, to come here and be part of that team of the architect of the capitol, and then for the last eight years, serving as the architect of the capitol. during that time, the dome restoration as i recall, president trump was sure it would not be restored by the inauguration, so we take all the scaffolding down and as soon as the inauguration was over go to the expense of putting it back up, i can assure you that with stephen ayers in charge, that was not an option.
it was going to be done, done on time. when the capital was expanded, the old dome no longer appropriate and suddenly this new dome is possible, and cast iron had been put into common use, so the cast-iron was available, the weight was something that would hold up. it would have never held up a stone dome put up years earlier, but that cast-iron was put up and about every 70 years or so, somebody has to go up and be sure that all those nuts and bolts are still there and the dome is secure and the potential devastation if you don't get it done the right way, so the capital restoration, the reflecting pool in front of the capital on the west side was restored during his leadership of the capital. if you have not taken time to
look at grant on his horse at the pool, you should. he is kind of huddled up, thinking about what will happen the next day when he had that unusual courage of wartime. general sherman said the one thing about grant was he was never scared, and very few generals are never scared. it comes through in that statue and it was restored under ethan's -- under stephen's leadership. the building built in 1910 had reworking, not easily done them about all of those things happened as well, and from my personal experience, getting to chair the last inauguration, stephen was responsible for preparing for two of those, and the government is never more vulnerable when everyone is outside on plywood and lumber, and lots of things have to be considered.
one of the last things i asked him about on the day before the inauguration on the platform is, let's talk one more time if we have to get everybody off of here in a hurry, and those are the things the chairman of the inauguration worries about, but also the things the architect of the capitol has to be concerned about, so for his willingness to accept this responsibility, for his willingness for over two decades for being part of continuing to protect this building and the buildings connected to it, but at the same time to make it as available as possible to people from all over the world who want to visit here, and of course particularly for americans who want to see their capital, and for everybody else who wants to make that inspirational visit to our capital, thank you, stephen, for your leadership, for your service. i thank you for your dedicated effort, and i think i get to now
>> i had the privilege of serving as a trustee at the u.s. capital historical society. it is my great pleasure to now introduced to you, formerly the 11th architect of the capitol, the honorable stephen ayers. please welcome him. [applause] stephen: thank you so much. thank you senator blunt for being here. your presence makes this a very special evening for us. please let me also thank don carlson and laura from the u.s. capital historical society. you two and your amazing teams do so much to promulgate the history of this magnificent capital building, and you make it come alive
through your stories, tours, programs, and events, and we are appreciative of that. it is those stories and those of -- those events and the interpretation that makes our capital a place, a place that people want to visit and want to learn more about. my office and the capital historical society have a long and rich history together, and an inseparable partnership. so many people have benefited from this partnership, yet so many have not even heard of the great work we do together. we work together to award scholarships to academic researchers who have added significantly to the documented history of our great capital over the years. we partner with you, laura and don, on a fabulous program to provide tours and content to at
risk children in washington, d.c. we work together to bring academics, pundits politicians, , writers, researchers, personalities to the capital to provide enlightening content to the public, and so much more. so, if you are not a member of the u.s. capital historical society, you need to be, and you need to sign up tonight. if you have not attended one of their programs, you need to go. so thank you, laura and don. i really appreciate it. i also thank my wonderful wife, jennifer, and two lovely children, for being here with me this evening. thank you for being here and for who you are. we are so honored to be the recipient of the 2018 freedom award, and i want to say a quick thank you to the entire board of
directors of the united states capital historical society for this wonderful recognition of the architect of the capitol. but, ladies and gentlemen, clearly and unequivocally the most important work of the u.s. capital historical society is to find the official portrait of the architect of the capitol. [laughter] stephen: wouldn't you agree? they did so for george white, the ninth architect of the capitol, for the 10th architect of the capitol, who is here this evening with his daughter. thank you for being here. they did so for me. i have no doubt they will bestow the same honor and generosity on the 12th architect of the capitol, perhaps 10 years from now.
what a unique experience it is likeness put on can for posterity. you know, as a mature adult, i'm children would fully agree with that, but i have the will say it, as a mature adult and seasoned know who i am. i erving as architect of the capitol, i have received copious feedback unsolicited about the work that my office does and even about me, and that shaped who i am a little bit. ut to turn all of that over to an artist and put on oil and canvass is quite another thing indeed. be too old, too young, too old, too gray, short, tall?
i'm losing control, and i like to have control, ladies and gentlemen. in the end it turned out beautifully, and i turned it friend.my gavin, for being we're delighted to have you. -- gavin, we're so with us. to have you we have plenty of old, tall, gray conservations which i'm sure drove him nuts, but gavin is a professional, and he delaware of delicately through a process that turned wonderful. we shared the same vision for this portrait. new, nted something
something fresh, something different, and most important, contrary, and that's contemporary, and that's why i selected gavin. 1850lected thomas walter's drawing of the united states capitol, a beautiful water color rendering from our archives as painting.op of the walter, of course, is the fourth capitol.t of the his portrait hung in my office ehind my desk for nearly 12 years as he looked over at the work that i did. able to take this idea and make it a reality. in contemporary works of art, and i couldn't be gavin, so thank you again very much. applause for of
gavin blakely. for those of you that know me, he of you have said that has captured the essence of who i am. okay.ss that's other people say it looks like me. good too.at's pretty well, i never dreamed that i you be standing before today, ladies and gentlemen, unveiling my portrait to hang in the halls of the united states congress, but i am so glad that and so glad that this journey has turned out the way has. it i've been a public servant and years, and t for 33 what a remarkable job it is been o be the architect of the capitol. clearly the honor of after the ime to be appointed by president of the united states, confirmed with 100 votes in the senate.
but the real honor, ladies and working withs been the incredibly talented team at the architect of the capitol. these men and women, their passion, their commitment, their talent, their service, their leadership, there is none other on the face of this earth and better on the face of this earth, and it is been such an able to work o be with them. and while i am, indeed, an architect, i am a leader, and therefore i'm in the people business. and over the last 12 years i've a n able to recruit leadership team that is quite remarkable. through supported me thick and through thin. hey care deeply about the employees of the architect of the capitol. they care deeply about the institution. they care deeply about our mission. hey understand what service to others really, really means, and
and immensely proud of them i'm delighted to have several of evening.n us this so thank you, my leadership team. i see many of you. for pk here. -- thank you for being here. it is with a heavy heart that i team that i eat invested so much in and have worked alongside for so many years, but i am extremely confident in their ability to work well r great into the future, and i look seeing their achievements when i come back to again.visit now and so thank you all again for being here and for joining me on this occasion. i'm humbled and grateful for humbled that nd all of you came out to join me this evening. so thank you once again.
>> thank you, stephen. the capitol historical society, i can tell you we value our partnership. and after your very generous remarks about the society, i join as a ou will volunteer fundraiser for the society. of respect and appreciation, your -- your friends hat and colleagues have had for you, $6,000 has been society in your honor. to say, i didn't see the portrait until now. and we're e portrait proud to have brought it to completion. in the next part of our ceremony. award, named for the
trong and eloquent statue that graces the capitol's dome which created in 1993 on the eve of 200th anniversary of the of theof the cornerstone capitol. each year it is it given to an or organization for greater cement of public understanding of and ppreciation for freedom, democracy and civic engagement as represented by the u.s. capitol and congress. recent years we have honored ournalists cokie roberts, congressional stalwarts daniel don engle, william norman menendez, and ongressman john lewis, historian david mc cull off --
mccoulough. it is especially fitting that honoring the architect of the capitol. the y of you are doing ath, 2018 is the 205th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone and the original the capitol. it traces its lineage back to design and cornerstone and the scope of its mission has only grown since then. my fellow trustee will now speak the the important work of architect of the capitol. >> thank you, jan. i'm really delighted to be able to say a few words about the ffice of the architect of the capitol. it has a lot of special meaning for me. as ve worked with them partners for almost ten years, member of the
capitol historical society and director ofas staff the rules committee which senator blunt now chairs. fact, stephen's nomination hearing was the first nomination the rules n committee. so we go back to the first days when he was confirmed as architect. i have seen during that time how their and christine and more than 2,000 tall end and really dedicated employees a respect for history, eally top-level modern management skills, concern for safety of everybody here in the complex, and outstanding of their hip in all projects. the or blunt talked about capitol dome refurbishment, a coup.s quite my favorite project was the berm id i n of the
corridors and the buildings ce restoration is underway. the ongoing tasks that make this a place that people work, keeping and the clocks working in the senate, maintaining the trees capitol rs on the growns, and leading -- grounds, and leading hundreds of tourists week, all of this makes this a special place for visit ors and people who work here alike. team exemplifies in captainry entry tion -- cap
mechanics, and i could go on. you name it, they probably do it. other thing that is stonishing and unique about them is how vast the jurisdiction is. they have the library of congress under their jurisdiction, the supreme court, nd even the u.s. bow tannic garden -- botanic garden. total, it is more than 18.4 square feet of building pace, 570 acres, and of course something very near and dear to the historical society is all of art sands of work that has so much historic ignificance to our country and our heritage. the a.o.c. is faced with a mandate sort of double to maintain an efficient office omplex in many very old
buildings and at the same time this and their many important works of art, and as i mentioned, or blunt making them as open as possible to the public. this is really difficult, but it not easy, it is never easy, yet they manage to do it after day.ell day i always felt that the a.o.c. rarely ll i say, recognized to the extent that what some be to be think of as a beacon for people all over the world to visit and admire this place. tonight's recognition is well deserved and i'm glad there from the y here architect's office to understand and know how important they are this place. it with -- it is with great someone who has been a talented member of the senior team of this important institution.
and she is now its new leader. is the first woman to hold this position, i'm pleased to acting architect of merdon.tol christine your nk you so much for kind remarks, jean. stephen, we do have a place for it. closet.ot in the that looks about ten pounds less. it is to at an honor be here tonight. i appreciate the united states for ol historical society recognizing the a.o.c. with a phenomenal award. men and women of our agency humble and dedicated people who serve congress and the preserve urt, america's capitol and inspire daily ble memories on a
basis. thank you. they are such a distinguished share the ople who love of history and our temple of them, cy, and many like you said, are here tonight, nd i want to thank you all for being here. i'm very, very happy to be boss of my former ayers days, mr. stephen and thank youond, for coming from new york, allen. those are two men who understand hard work of the a.o.c. and me they are both here to share in this award. trace our d, we rigins back to 1793 and that's when george washington laid the cornerstone for the building. agency that strives to symbolic fied and
vision of the capitol campus nherited from our nation's founders. but we also look to the future nd i am focused on attracting and retaining talented employees and passionate about what they do. supporting projects that are responding sed and -- to growing needs ensure future generations take ride in the facilities and art under our care. i'd like to think of this work people, projects, and preservation. honors our most important agency resource, our people. it is an oned -- it is wonder funderful to - hear the work of the architect capitol being recognized.
artists, tradesmen, and scholars and i'm proud to have a tonight.em with me thank you. the second p is for projects. the a.o.c. has the responsibility to have a master the for the future of capitol campus and that vision the serve capitol hill and american people well into the future. the third p, of course, is preservation, our heritage assets, including the buildings, landscapes, art, records. inuse preservation documents our planning as tools to reclaim to renew, and -- heritage ssets assets that are standard for the
capitol and a symbol for democracy. i would like to tell you a story about the capitol dome it is not about how we took down the but how our team worked hard and how it showcased of historical knowledge and commitment to preservation. efore we started the restoration, our construction eam, and some of them are here today, and they read a book it ed freedom's cap, and talked about the building, the talked about the complex taeshths that occurred war.g the civil but our team dug deeper. hey also read the diari, the diary of the captain. that gave them a better understanding of what they were facing.
by reading the book we had an just how ing of not things were made or what they were made of but the story they were made. s we were gearing up for the restoration, we used imaging of identify theome to cracks and deficiencies in the dome. that helped us identify the of the projects. so these assets were helpful, the tinydidn't contain etails of the fasteners and connections concealed by the castiron. so some of these spaces we couldn't get to. balistrate to take apart, but the most important the 200 water s in the awings made
1850's by the fourth architect of the capitol. were tremendous in documenting how everything was 1865.ogether in so we used what he drew and by we figured out how they took things apart as they the 1860's. so fortunately we have amazing visits, the a.o.c. were able pull this using modern technology to access historic is typical ut this of our teams using technology, we have to rk that approach projects carefully. the few o.c. is one of organizations where taeshths and and engineers ts work with highly skilled tradesmen. they understand the buildings on capitol hill purposely designed built.
regular maintenance and adhering principles help keep and succeed the preservation of these national for years to come. so tonight we are celebrating the great ork by people of the architect of the capitol. employees regularly work the frontline and they are unfolding history every day. to we are committed providing a safe environment where they can conduct this work. deeply honored to accept the united states capitol society's freedom award on behalf of the talented architect of he the capitol. thank you. (applause) >> in recognition of the
advancing a ory of greater public understanding of freedom as represented by the capitol and the congress efforts to ngoing serve the congress and the supreme court to preserve capitol and inspire memorable experiences for all, i will now present the 2018 u.s. capitol historical society the architect o of the capitol. take a also like to moment before we actually make acknowledge ion to several groups and individuals ithout whom this evening would not have been possible. represented ca on-collingwood, the department of taeshths, and the civil n society of
engineers represented by brian casey different ngish. thank you all. to have so honored among ourselves guests tonight like to call attention to, a number of members of congress, although house has e of the prevented a number of them from eing here, but thank you, representatives from the first williamt of the capitol authoriti the deputy head patrick michael, and representatives of several a strong ns that have appreciation for the work of the architect of the capitol, the senate, the the senate sergeant at arms, the hief administrative officer of the house, the house sergeant at rms, the u.s. capitol police department, the administrative
the e of the u.s. courts, national building museum, george and ngton's mount vernon, many more who i apologize for not naming by name. before we conclude the formal program, i would like to take a reflect on the awesome esponsibility one faces as the architect of the apt yol. -- capitol. to overseeing the expansive organization, they are a member of the police board, district of columbia's oning commission, the president's advisory council on istoric preservation, the ational historical capitol commission, and national conservation the
of cultural property. in spite of, and perhaps because of these significant demands, found itol has always capable and dedicated architects. in his memoir the ninth the capitol, george white described what drew him to his position and what kept him from pursuing more lucrative but less fulfilling positions elsewhere in the field. he said to be a small part of history of our great nation a responsible professional, the preservation of our architectural heritage, to be instrumental in providing urban design for capitol hill the citizenry,ch atmosphere conducive to the active thinking of the this seemed of
more significant than the opportunities for material wealth. are fortunate to have three individuals who have served or architects of the tonight.n our audience arnold hampton, the former s, architect of the capitol and merdon, the acting of the capitol. allen, stephen, and christine, these ke to present
eplica's made from capitol marble to each of you in gratitude for your service. that service and for being the people that you preservation of the eritage of the united states for the capitol. >> with that, ladies and reach the endhave of our program. go a little off script for a moment. on behalf of the capitol and the l society board, we treasure our relationship with the architect capitol.
we work together to preserve and acquaint the american public with something that means to all of us who have spent a good deal of their the dome.he shadow of we look forward to continuing relationship and sharing that experience with more americans. which enjoy the reception has been set up in the back of thank m and i personally you for coming and sharing this tonight.th us we will now actually present
american watching history t.v. only on >> you're watching american only on c-span 3. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> today at 4:00 p.m. eastern on "a america the 1949 film day in congress," which traces congress.f the 80th >> they must think this out carefully. they have learned throuan