U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, Washington DC

4.3
#54 of 435 in Things to do in Washington DC
Visitor Center · Traveler Resource
The United States Capitol Visitor Center is a large underground addition to the United States Capitol complex which serves as a gathering point for up to 4,000 tourists and an expansion space for the US Congress. It is located below the East Front of the Capitol and its plaza, between the Capitol building and 1st Street East. The complex contains 580000sqft of space below ground on three floors. The overall project's budget was $621 million.The CVC has space for use by the Congress, including multiple new meeting and conference rooms. On the House side, there is a large room which will most likely be used by a committee. The new Congressional Auditorium, a 450-seat theater, will be available for use by members of Congress or for either House of Congress should their respective chamber be unavailable.The CVC officially opened on December 2, 2008. This date was selected to coincide with the 145th anniversary of placing Thomas Crawford's Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol building in 1863, signifying the completion of construction of its dome.Design conceptThe CVC contains three under-ground levels: a balcony level entrance, the Emancipation Hall level and a third restricted level for new Congressional offices and meeting rooms. The construction of the CVC represents the largest-ever expansion of the United States Capitol and more than doubles the footprint of the US Capitol building complex.The American Institute of Architects awarded RTKL Associates Inc. with the Award of Excellence in Historic Resources for their work on the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. The award was presented at the Architecture Week Closing Party & Design Awards Gala on September 30, 2010, in Washington, D.C.
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U.S. Capitol Visitor Center reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
1,011 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • It is a large underground addition to the United States Capitol complex. Our daughter arranged this spectacular experience which we really enjoyed. Iconic architecture.  more »
  • The U.S. Capitol building is one of my favorite places in Washington DC. I've had the privilege to have been there twice and would easily go again. As other reviews have noted, book in advance...  more »
Google
  • Book in advance but on the quiet days you can turn up without a reservation and walk straight on to a tour as we did on a Friday. It’s worth doing. The rotunda is fantastic. For international visitors it’s easy enough to get to see the extras (house of senate and House of Representatives) - just give your photo ID to the appointment desk. But note that no cameras are allowed in either of those last two places and it has it own security.
  • Review from Spring 2013. The sheer size of the capitol is mindblowing and the free tours are great, which give you a great overview of the building and the associated history with it. There is a long tunnel from within the capitol to the library of congress which was pretty cool. Give yourself some extra time for security screening on busy days.

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