Status and Plans for Washington Monument Restoration

Key Points    Cost, Funding and Donation

Cost is estimated at about $15 million to repair earthquake related damage

Washington Monument still stands tall behind a fellow pedicaber

Washington Monument still stands tall behind a fellow pedicaber

This includes about an 18% mark-up for contingency, construction management, etc. so actual construction costs will be closer to $11 or $12 million. This is only for earthquake related damage, not post-earthquake water damage, etc, elevator, repair design, or seismic strengthening.

$7.5 million was included in the omnibus bill passed by Congress last month. (Same bill that transferred Union Square to the Architect of the Capitol)

David Rubenstein, (Ruben-STINE) co-founder of Carlyle Group, one of the world’s largest private equities firms, donated the matching $7.5 million. Rubenstein is a well-known philanthropist, who recently donated millions to the National Zoo for panda studies, National Archives, Library of Congress, etc. and lent one of four existing copies of the Magna Carta to the National Archives, a signed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation to the White House, and his rare copy of the Declaration of Independence to the State Department.

Repair Facts


  • The Washington Monument is a 555-foot tall hollow obelisk consisting of a stone masonry shaft topped by a pyramidion, which begins at 500 feet.  The pyramidion consists of exterior facing, 7-inch-thick, single marble panels supported on twelve marble structural ribs beginning at 470 feet.
  • After a 5.8 earthquake in the Washington, D.C. area on August 23, 2011, cracks were discovered in the Monument and the elevator was found to be damaged.
  • The National Park Service immediately brought in consulting engineers to make an emergency evaluation. It was determined that a more extensive evaluation would need to be done.
  • On August 24, a team from the consulting firms of Tipping Mar and Wiss, Janney, Elstner (WJE), traveled to the park to perform the evaluations. Field evaluations were conducted on August 25th and 26th.  Investigations were limited to observations of visible structural and non-structural seismic damage. The majority of the exterior of the monument could not be evaluated during the site visit.
  • Based on the field evaluations, the heaviest damage appeared to be concentrated at the ribbed portion of the structure, between approximate elevations 475 feet and 530 feet; large cracks up to 1¼ inch developed through stone and mortar joints. The uppermost portion above elevation 530 feet appeared free of notable damage. There were several locations where cracks were significant enough to require localized repairs to eliminate the possibility of falling hazards.
  • At the time of the initial survey (Aug. 26th), emergency repairs were undertaken to remove obvious and immediate falling hazards and temporarily waterproof the monument. WJE removed spalls and incipient spalls from the interior of the pyramidion, and installed temporary waterproofing. But overall, the monument was found to be structurally sound.
  • The monument elevator was placed back into a limited working condition by a local elevator company on Friday, August 26, 2011.  It was determined that further permanent repairs would be needed so that it can be inspected and certified for full service operation.
  • In order to fully assess the exterior of the Monument, the NPS brought in a Difficult Access Team (DAT) from Wiss Janney Elstner (WJE). Beginning at the end of September, 2011, the team performed an exterior full-height survey of the monument using a trained ropes engineering team. The exterior survey took approximately 10-days, and was completed on October 5, 2011.
  • The DAT from WJE was brought back out to the monument in November 14, 2011 for completion of a Weatherization effort that included performing an exterior access of the monument face and installation of backer rod into all major visible cracks from the 460’ level up and including the Pyramidion. The weatherization effort was completed on November 17, 2011.
  • Wiss Janney Elstner prepared a detailed exterior survey report on the conditions observed and recommended repairs, as well as preliminary repair cost estimates.
  • A Scope of Services and Solicitation for elevator repairs was released to repair companies listed in early December. A contract is expected to be awarded next week and repairs are expected to take about 90 days.
  • The consultant team of Tipping Mar/Wiss Janney Elstner is currently under a task order for the preparation of a construction/repair document package for the permanent repairs to the monument.  Construction documents are expected in May, 2012, and repair solicitation to go out for bid in August.
  • Repair is expected to take 10 – 12 months.
  • In addition, scope of services has been prepared for release to Tipping Mar/Wiss Janney Elstner for a cost proposal to perform a seismic study of the Monument.  This study will be to determine vulnerabilities of the Monument to future ground motion, and will develop strengthening methodologies if needed.  This study is expected to be completed in April 2012.


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