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Summer 2010 Vol. 10 Number 2



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SPOTLIGHT

Restoration of the historic home of the National Academy of Sciences began this summer, photos courtesy Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences and Tamara Luzeckyj, senior conservator at Olin Conservation Inc.

Restoring the Home of Science

Strolling around the National Academy of Sciences building is like taking a journey through the history of science. Rising to the height of 56 feet, the dome and arches of the building's Great Hall are lined with scientific emblems and inscriptions. At the center is a sun surrounded by planets, and eight disciplines of science are depicted. High on the north wall hangs a mural of Prometheus stealing fire from the sun god Helios to bring mankind the flame of knowledge; and beautiful bronze doors and panels with symbols and figures from science emblazon the southern facade of the building.

Restoration of the historic home of the National Academy of Sciences began this summer, photos courtesy Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences and Tamara Luzeckyj, senior conservator at Olin Conservation Inc. Restoration of the historic home of the National Academy of Sciences began this summer, photos courtesy Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences and Tamara Luzeckyj, senior conservator at Olin Conservation Inc. Restoration of the historic home of the National Academy of Sciences began this summer, photos courtesy Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences and Tamara Luzeckyj, senior conservator at Olin Conservation Inc.

While the Great Hall appears to be in perfect condition, it is not, nor is the rest of the historic home of the Academy on Constitution Avenue. After 86 years of exposure to the elements, the Great Hall is being cleaned as part of a major restoration project, which began this summer. The project will improve the building's historic spaces, increase accessibility, and bring aging infrastructure and facilities into the 21st century.

The building was designed by architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, and on April 28, 1924, President Calvin Coolidge dedicated it as "the Temple of Science in America," saying, "It is not a place of mystery, but one to lead the public in thinking deeply and seeing how research can explain fundamental problems."

Improving the building's energy efficiency is a priority. The installation of more efficient heating and cooling systems and use of solar power will reduce energy consumption by an estimated 40 percent. The two-year project will also restore the building's exterior damaged by age and weather; reconfigure the meeting rooms to create a modern conference center; replace antiquated infrastructure with modern communication networks; replace part of the roof and drainage system; and improve accessibility to the disabled and ease of navigation for all visitors.

During the restoration, many of the meetings usually held at the NAS building will take place at the Keck Center of the National Academies. The Einstein Memorial Statue, a favorite for locals and tourists, will remain open during the restoration.

Photos and updated information about the restoration are available online through the NAS Cultural Programs office. --  Maureen O'Leary



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