Every so often I like to take a quick drive through the city to check on what’s happening with some of my favorite locations. Yesterday I decided it was time for another because spring will soon be upon us. Typically, I am looking for construction projects that may finally be completed, the appearance of new obstacles since my last scouting run, whether a given fountain is running, and what flowers might be in bloom. So what follows is an example of a periodic report that will be of interest primarily to photographers interested in possible photographic opportunities in the coming weeks.
Major News: Access to the observation tower will be ended soon, most likely by the end of March in order to make way for the renovation of the building by the Trump Organization. The tower will re-open in 2016. See my blog post with details here.
Fountains: It is still too early for most fountains and I didn’t see any that were operating during my circuit. If you have a specific favorite (mine is the Bartholdi Fountain across Independence Avenue from the Botanic Garden), you can send a question using the comment field.
National Gallery of Art, East Wing: The exterior work, involving the removal and reinstallation of the marble veneer seems nearly done. The estimated completion date is spring 2014. A single large construction crane remains on the Madison Avenue side and there is a large temporary construction building on the lawn bordering 3rd Street.
Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building: The long-term renovation project continues, but the end for the exterior seems to be in sight. The scaffolding has been removed from many parts and the finished exterior looks great. Unfortunately, according to a 13 January article in the Washington Post, the building will not re-open to the public in the foreseeable future due to a lack of funding for the work needed for public access and operation.
Supreme Court: The repair and renovation of the West Façade was completed last November but the scrim they used during the project was really cool. The scrim was like a big painting of the front to diminish the ugliness of all those scaffolds, a technique commonly used in Europe. But it’s gone now and a quick glance at the front of the Supreme Court yesterday showed no sign of any work being done. So photographers can snap away, but be aware that a tripod cannot be used on the plaza or the steps. I’ve been able to use a tripod on the sidewalk without any problems, however.
U.S. Capitol Building: The Dome of the Capitol Building is scheduled to go under scaffolding sometime soon, but as of 21 February, there was no sign of work having begun. So if you have plans for photographing the Capitol as it normally appears, you had better hustle. Don’t forget that a tripod permit is required if you want to use one on the Capitol grounds. You can find a copy of their rules and a form here.
Washington Monument: Although the earthquake repair is finally complete, a portion of the scaffolding is still present. It looks like they have progressed only a little since late December, the last time I photographed it.
World War II Memorial: The fountains are not running and the pool is empty. Moreover, the repair project at the west end of the Memorial is still unfinished. A guard told me last year that it had something to do with the recent renovation of the Reflection Pool and we are well past the estimated completion date he gave me. But once the fountains start up again, there will be plenty of shooting opportunities unaffected by the work site.