Ceiling Restoration in the Main Hall and Retail Concourse
In August 2011, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake shook the DC metropolitan area, affecting Union Station. The most notable damage was to the historic plaster ceilings in the Main Hall and Retail Concourse. In order to inspect and repair the monumental coffered ceiling, a rolling scaffolding system was designed to allow for the public to continue to safely pass through the station while work progresses above.
In the Main Hall, the ceiling is comprised of five bays. Each bay received plaster repairs, fresh paint, and new, higher quality gold leaf. Above the ceiling, a new steel support system was installed for the plaster, along with improvements made to the ventilation system and worker maintenance access. Each bay took approximately six months to complete, and in the spring of 2016, all five bays were completed.
Aiding the project financing for the Main Hall restorations, was a grant awarded to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and gifted to USRC from the American Express Foundation. The $350,000 grant has assisted in funding the re-gilding of the Main Hall ceiling in a higher quality, 23 karat, 18 gram weight gold, which increased the life expectancy to 75-100 years.