Capitol, United States


Capitol, United States

Meeting place of the U.S. Congress. In 1792 a competition for its design was won by William Thornton (1759–1828); his revised Federal-style design of 1795 was executed as the exterior of the wings adjacent to the central rotunda. Benjamin H. Latrobe, as Surveyor of Public Buildings (1803), followed Thornton's conception of the exterior but used his own interior designs; perhaps his best-known contribution was his invention of tobacco-leaf and corn-cob capitals. After the British set fire to the Capitol in 1814, Latrobe began its reconstruction, but resigned in 1817. By 1827 his successor, Charles Bulfinch, had joined the two wings and built the first dome and the rotunda. In 1850 Thomas Ustick Walter (1804–1887) won a competition to expand the wings; he also designed the 287–ft- (87–m- ) high cast-iron dome (1855–66), which was based on Michelangelo's dome for St. Peter's Basilica. The marble and sandstone building contains about 540 rooms and stands in a 131-acre (53-hectare) park.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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