21030 United States Capitol Building


William Thornton (1759-1828)
Born in the British West Indies, he became an American citizen in 1787. While his design for the Capitol won him praise from the President (as well as $500 and a building lot in the city), the professional architects employed to oversee the construction were less impressed and tried to alter his design at every turn.

Stephen Hallet (1755-1825) 
A professionally trained architect from France, he arrived in the U.S. around 1790 and submitted
at least five designs of his own for the Capitol building. Placed in charge of the construction process in 1793, Hallet revised the floor plan of the two wings before being dismissed a year later for insubordination.

George Hadfield (1763-1826)
Hadfield took over from Hallet and immediately suggested major alterations to the original plan. Before his dismissal in 1798, he designed the first office buildings for the cabinet departments.

James Hoban (1758-1831)
Born in Ireland, he had moved to the U.S. in 1785 after studying architecture in Dublin. Hoban supervised the completion of the north wing and designed its interior, while also overseeing
the building of the White House.

Thomas U. Walter (1804-1887)
Walter carried out the expansion of the building in 1850 and replaced the 1818 dome with the one we see today.
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  • LocationWashington, D.C., USA
  • Construction Periods1793, 1815, 1850, and 2000
  • Architectural style19th century Neo-Classical
  • Dimensions751 ft (229 m) by 350 ft (106 m)
  • Height288 ft (87 m)
  • Floor Space175,170 sq ft (16,258 m2)


On September 18, 1793, President George Washington laid the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol Building at the southeast corner of its foundation. The ceremony was carried out with
great pomp and celebration as it marked the building of the young nation’s most symbolically important and architecturally impressive building.
U.S. Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson announced a public competition to design the new Capitol Building. An idea submitted by the amateur architect William Thornton was selected and received praise from President Washington for its “Grandeur, Simplicity and Beauty”. 
After being partially burned down by the British in 1814, the U.S. Capitol Building was rebuilt and the first dome at the center of the building was added in 1818. By the 1850s it was clear that the
building could no longer accommodate the growing number of states joining the union and the Capitol was expanded to become the building we recognize today.