Historic Preservation: Living Assets and the U.S. Capitol Grounds

Historic Preservation: Living Assets and the U.S. Capitol Grounds


♪ [music] ♪ – [Jim] It’s important to preserve
Frederick Law Olmsted’s landscape here because it’s a part of American history. It’s a living and breathing landscape that
has been here for 140 years. Frederick Law Olmsted is the father of
American landscape architecture. Most of his landscapes are large open
landscapes and parks. That’s what makes the U.S. Capitol and the
Capitol grounds so distinctly different from much of his other landscapes is
because he designed this not as a park, but really as a place where the landscape
is second to the building. – [Katie] He creates these alcoves as
you’re walking up to the Capitol. You’re walking up and kind of weaving
between the sidewalk and the trees and then you come upon
this magnificent building. And then there it is, almost like a
picturesque moment. It’s probably one of the most amazing
places to work. We’re adding towards the history of the
U.S. Capitol and we get to preserve and maintain a historic landscape collection. – We have over 4,500 trees in our
Arboretum. A lot of them are memorial trees,
commemorative trees, and really trees that have some sort of
special interest to our nation. ♪ [music] ♪ – [Rick] I think one of the most
interesting trees on the grounds is the Anne Frank tree. It’s a cutting from a horse chestnut
outside of the window where she hid from the Nazis, and it’s right over there. On campus there are trees that are well
over 100 years old and they’re a witness to history and we like to preserve. – [Christopher] We’re doing an ambitious program
where they’re taking seedlings from certain trees to preserve and
replant it here on the Capitol Grounds. – When we decide what we are going to
change on the landscape such as we need to remove one of the historic trees,
we take Olmsted’s cultural landscape report and try and put in another type of
tree that is the same. We try not to install any type of species
that would detract from the building’s integrity. – [Melissa] The most important thing that
we can do specifically for the trees but also for the turf is really about
creating exclusion zones around critical root zones of trees. If visitors are here during the 4th of
July or Memorial Day, they’ll see giant swaths of fencing around
our trees and that’s really about protecting the soil around the
critical root zone of those trees because managing soil compaction is probably the
most important thing you can do for the health of trees. – Working here at the Architect of the
Capitol provides an opportunity to preserve many different assets. We have both Frederick Law Olmsted’s
living historic assets such as our trees and hardscape features. ♪ [music] ♪ Frederick Law Olmsted designed the Summerhouse
so that it was a place where people could come and relax. – The Summerhouse is probably my favorite
feature. – There’s a small grotto in there where
the water cascades and drips down. – It’s a great little private alcove and a
nice hideaway on the side of the Capitol that’s hidden from most people. – At Capitol Grounds and Arboretum,
we have about 80 full-time employees with a wide-ranging skill and all of our
employees play a vital role to the preservation of Frederick Law Olmsted’s
landscape. – I think it’s a testament of our team and
the folks here at the U.S. Capitol striving and working hard
to keep the integrity of that original design concept in place. – First and foremost,
we are here as stewards of the landscape. What I think is most important about what
we’re doing to preserve this landscape for the future really is about restoring
Olmsted’s original vision for the landscape. His thought was to bring people to this
landscape meant that it would instill in them a sense of who they are as
Americans and an appreciation for American democracy. – And it’s my opportunity and our team’s
opportunity to contribute to the Capitol landscape to preserve it for the next
generation and for future generations beyond that.

One comment

  1. As usual, great job again Architect of The Capitol! I can never get tired of looking at this beautiful building both inside and out! To me, it is the most beautiful building in the entire Nation!

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