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Architect's Report and Plans for the Improvement of the Lighting, Heating, Ventilation, and Acoustics of Senate Chamber and Hall of House of Representatives, 1864 (Classic Reprint)

Architect's Report and Plans for the Improvement of the Lighting, Heating, Ventilation, and Acoustics of Senate Chamber and Hall of House of Representatives, 1864 (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from Architect's Report and Plans for the Improvement of the Lighting, Heating, Ventilation, and Acoustics of Senate Chamber and Hall of House of Representatives, 1864

To the Honorable the Joint Select Committee of the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States, on the subject of Lighting Heating, Ventilating and Acoustics of the two Halls of Congress:

The report of Chas. Fred. Anderson, Architect and Civil Engineer, of the city of Washington, D.C., most respectfully represents -

That in obedience to your appointment and directions, made in pursuance of the concurrent resolution of the two Houses of Congress of the 10th of May last, the undersigned has diligently applied himself ta minute examination of the various parts of the North and South Extensions, and to the various plans and drawings of their several parts which will necessarily have to be used or which will be slightly affected by the plan by which he proposes to improve the lighting, heating, ventilating and acoustics of the Halls of Congress, with a view to discover the most direct, easy, and economical manner in which the plan can be applied to the structure as it now exists.

This examination has the more strongly and clearly developed the errors of those parties having charge of the construction of these Extensions, in departing from the plans which the undersigned had the honor to furnish for the accomplishment of these objects, and which had been submitted to President Fillmore, and was supported by Mr. Webster, then Secretary of State. During the administration of President Pierce these same plans were submitted to him, and fully examined and approved by Montgomery C. Meigs, then Captain of U.S. Engineers and Superintendent of the Capitol Extension, and by Professors Bache and Henry, and was also approved by the Secretary of War, under whose directions the works had been placed, as will fully appear by the documents appended to this report; and yet, strange as it may appear. Captain Meigs, in his actual construction of the Extension, not only rejected this plan for the lighting, ventilating and heating of the Legislative Halls but actually reversed the whole system, making the error radical, and therefore more difficult now to remedy or cure. However, by a thorough study and examination of all the parts, the undersigned flatters himself that he has (by his accompanying plans) established the means of making the desired improvements with the least possible alteration or change in the interior arrangements; none, in fact, which will occupy any material apartments or space of the Extensions, or injure or interfere with the present appearance and arrangement of the Halls of Congress in any way, except to lighten up and greatly improve their interior appearance, as well as the exterior superstructure; all of which will be shown and explained by this report, and by the the drawings and plans therewith submitted.

The erroneous plan adopted by Captain Meigs, which has been operating since the occupation of the Halls and is now existing in both Houses, receives the exterior air under the ground floor from off the surface of the overheated and dusty terraces, furnishing much of the bad air from beneath, carried to its surface by evaporation and side currents of air from the ground, and this air is also tainted with much of the odors caused by the machinery near which it passes.

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