Leader of the preservation world

Submitted by scimino on Fri, 04/17/2015 - 14:03
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He\u0027s in the middle of a 10-year term as Architect of the Capitol, which means he oversees such American landmarks as the Library of Congress buildings, the U.S. Supreme Court Building and the aforementioned Capitol Building. All in all, he manages what might be the most influential swath of buildings in the world."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[0],1,"In celebration of 2015\u0027s National Architecture Week, Ayers spoke to the AIA about his restoration efforts and sustainability initiatives as the 11th person to hold this lofty post."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"I have spent the last 18 years in the office of the Architect of the Capitol, but working on preservation issues really didn\u0027t come into my portfolio until I started. Now, being responsible for some of the oldest and most important buildings in the country or perhaps even the world, it\u0027s become not just a necessity but a love and a passion of mine. I have come to understand how important my stewardship role is over these treasures and their ability to make history."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"One thing many people don\u0027t know is that the Architect of the Capitol has a statutory position on the President\u0027s "],[0,[1],1,"Advisory Council on Historic Preservation"],[0,[],0,". I play a very important role with my other council members in regards to "],[0,[2],1,"Section 106 process"],[0,[],0,", and with the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act coming up [in 2016], we are looking forward to celebrating the accomplishments of that act from a preservation perspective."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"We currently oversee 17.4 million square feet of space, over 550 acres of historic grounds. While the Capitol Building is important, there are lots of other treasures on Capitol Hill. The Roman temple\u2013inspired "],[0,[3],1,"Supreme Court Building"],[0,[],0,", for one; the [Library of Congress] "],[0,[4],1,"Thomas Jefferson Building"],[0,[],0," from 1897, wildly acclaimed as the most beautiful building in America at the time; the "],[0,[5],1,"Cannon House Office Building"],[0,[],0," by Thomas Hastings, perhaps the best example of the Beaux-Arts style of architecture. There are even more modern edifices, such as the "],[0,[6],1,"Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building"],[0,[],0,". It\u0027s a wide spectrum of buildings\u2014from 225 years old to virtually brand new\u2014by world-class architects, and my time is really equally divided among all of those facilities."]]],[1,"blockquote",[[0,[],0,"\u0022I have come to understand how important my stewardship role is over these treasures and their ability to make history.\u0022"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"In terms of restoration, today we have a backlog of $1.6 billion in deferred maintenance, and we recognize that not everything can be funded. We have developed, working in partnership with Congress, a really great prioritization process. It looks at mission, energy, environmental impact, cost, regulatory compliance\u2014all of these issues together\u2014and enables us to put forth a list of prioritized requirements that is not influenced by anything other than those criteria. No preference, no politics; none of that comes into play. When it came to the dome restoration, however, that was a fairly bipartisan effort. Everyone understood the value of the building and the symbolism of the dome, and they were onboard right away with funding."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"When it comes to energy consumption on Capitol Hill, an important benchmark for us is the Energy Independence and Security Act, which requires all federal entities to reduce their energy intensity by 3 percent per year over the course of 10 years. At the end of this fiscal year, we\u0027re coming to the end of that. And today, we are at 29.5 percent reduction in energy intensity in all buildings over the course of the last 9.5 years. We\u0027re really looking forward to celebrating that accomplishment here in the next month or two, as we will hit that mark early. That takes really hard work\u2014investing in changing your HVAC systems, improving distribution of steam, putting in the latest lighting-control technology, occupancy sensors\u2014all of that kind of sustainability innovation, we\u0027ve been able to incorporate in our office buildings."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"The way we\u0027ve been able to do that is show proven payback on the investment. We can\u0027t take something to Congress that doesn\u0027t have reasonable payback. But if we can show that, if we make these investments we will recoup the money in a reasonable period of time, Congress has proven to be incredibly supportive of those efforts."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"We\u0027re occupying these buildings in perpetuity. They\u0027re not speculative office buildings; these will be here for generations, and so we are committed to making them as efficient as they possibly could be.\u2014"],[0,[0],1,"As told to Steve Cimino"]]]]}
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The Architect of the Capitol shares his thoughts on restoration, sustainability, and a surprisingly straightforward partnership with Congress.
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Stephen T. Ayers, FAIA, the 11th Architect of the Capitol, oversees 17.4 million square feet of government-owned space.
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Architect of the Capitol, Stephen T. Ayers, historic preservation, energy consumption
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