Conservation Solutions, Inc: Art + Architecture + Artifacts

Bronze Elements Assessment and Treatment - US Supreme Court

Site
US Supreme Court, Washington, District of Columbia
Client
Forrester Construction Company

At the request of the Architect of the Capitol, Conservation Solutions, Inc. (CSI) conservators performed a survey and condition assessment of selected exterior bronze elements at the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in Washington, DC. The goal of this assessment was to create an inventory of element types and typical conditions, to investigate and interpret likely original finishes, and to make recommendations for the treatment of each.

Elements studied included decorative features (torchieres, flagpole bases, decorative railings, etc), architectural features (grilles, gates, etc) and utilitarian features (hose bibs, grates, etc). The elements are fabricated from various alloys of cast, pressed, and/or extruded bronze components, alone or in combination. Most of these high-quality elements date to the original period of construction of the building and are part of a harmonious, building-wide design scheme. There have also been a series of additions and/or replacements that are in character with the originals in terms of overall design, as well as appearance.

CSI undertook a holistic investigation to determine the possible original finishes, which combined research into historic documents and photos, careful probing and observation of site conditions, and selective analysis through X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF). The findings were summarized in an assessment report and included representative images and descriptions of the various conditions.

In 2012 CSI treated select exterior bronze elements of the 1930's Cass Gilbert Supreme Court building.