The National Park Service, which oversees the operations of the Washington Monument, has approved a glass design for a visitor screening center at the base of the structure. The monument is currently closed for repairs and renovations until 2019. When the site reopens, visitors will enter the monument through a 27′ x 30′ entrance, which replaces a temporary structure added following the 9/11 attacks.
The new structure will hold about 2 dozen visitors at a time and will use bulletproof glass. According to the Park Service, the building will use tinted or fritted glass to reduce solar heat gain in the structure.
That’s not the only upgrade the monument will receive. The structure is being converted to a geothermal heating and cooling source. The monument will use four 500-foot wells to provide year round heating and cooling in both the screening center and the monument itself.
The Washington Monument was officially opened in 1888, 40 years after its cornerstone was laid. The monument was restored between 1998-2001, but it remained open during most of the three-year process. It was closed in 2011, after having been damaged by both an earthquake in Virginia and by Hurricane Irene in the same year. The monument reopened in 2014, but was closed again in 2016 by the National Park Service to address reliability issues with the building’s elevator and other mechanical and electrical problems.
The National Park Service took the opportunity presented by the current closure to reevaluate the visitor entryway. The NPS opted for a permanent structure, but says that the glass building could be easily removed in the future if desired.
The Washington Monument is both the tallest obelisk and the tallest stone structure in the world. At one point, it was the tallest building in the world, but was surpassed for that title by the Eiffel Tower just one year after the monument opened. It remains the tallest building in Washington, D.C.
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Photo Credit: Matt Wade, via Flickr.com