Blowing the Lid Off the Rotunda

Workers today removed the oculus, or skylight, from the University of Virginia’s Rotunda dome as part of the iconic building’s roof replacement. Following its removal, crews were to install a temporary black membrane to protect the building’s interior until a new oculus is installed around mid-March. While the Rotunda will remain open during the work, the Dome Room will have only limited access to visitors for about 12 weeks.

The work is part of the first phase of the Rotunda renovations, which involve replacing the leaking roof and the oculus, as well as repairing the exterior brick walls, windows and ornamental sheet metal. Future phases include replacing the elevator, restoring the portico column capitals and improving the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, sprinkler and data systems.

The total project, expected to take several years, will cost around $50 million. It is being funded through a mixture of state appropriations and private gifts. (Video gift appeal below.)

The Rotunda is part of the University’s original Academical Village, designed by Thomas Jefferson. Along with Jefferson’s home, Monticello, it is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. The Rotunda has undergone several changes since its original construction, most notably after a major fire in 1895. You can read more about the project here.

(Thanks to UVA Today’s boss, McGregor McCance, for climbing up there to take the picture with his trusty cellphone.)

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