The Future Looks Bright for DAR Constitution Hall

Written by: Lynn Young, President General
November 18, 2015

On Monday I was in the office so that I could meet with the Constitution Hall restoration team and get an update on the progress of the work. Things are going well, even with the challenges of working around the busy Constitution Hall performance schedule. I want to share an article that was recently featured on Quinn Evans Architects blog about the work being done in the Hall. This blog post gives insight into some more of the specific preservation work that is being performed thanks to the Guradian Trust current needs. Learn more about the Constitution Hall restoration and how you can support the project here:

Written by: Maureen Vosmek, Staff architect, Quinn Evans Architects    

I recently had the pleasure of working on the restoration of the historic interior lobby space at Constitution Hall. This 475 foot long, U-shaped lobby wraps the auditorium on three sides and features a continuous vaulted ceiling punctuated by rosette light fixtures and low-relief plaster medallions of angels. 

Constitution Hall was originally designed by John Russell Pope for the Daughters of the American Revolution to house their annual Continental Congress. Since its opening in 1929, Constitution Hall has been in continual use as Washington DC’s largest Concert Hall hosting a wide range of events from musical performances, theatrical productions, presidential debates, awards ceremonies and graduations. 

This historically significant venue boasts one of the most elegant interiors in Washington, D.C. Designed in the Neoclassical Revival style, the historic finishes within the lobby include beautiful decorative plasterwork, terrazzo flooring, and glass vestibules with delicate metal pilasters and flowers. Quinn Evans Architects restoration of the lobby will enhance the refined elegance of this important space while providing a few modern improvements to meet the demands of today. 

One such improvement is the introduction of modern lighting options within a restored historic fixture. The 7 foot diameter rosette light fixtures throughout the vaulted ceiling are a major feature of the lobby. The cast plaster grilles were originally finished with a moderate bright gold-bronze powder in lacquer binder and would have given the appearance of a bright metallic surface. The original lamping included a spoked wheel of lights providing an intense glow at the center of the rosette with more diffuse light around the perimeter. 

The restoration of the 20 rosette fixtures will include replication of the original bronze powder finish using a mica titanium powder to match the original bronze flake. Additionally, the rosettes will include higher efficiency LED lamping in a double radial pattern allowing various dimming capabilities. The lobby rosettes will provide a perfect balance of historic restoration, sustainability and modern upgrades to meet 21st century lighting demands. Additional upgrades to the HVAC and electrical systems will also enhance comfort and functionality.

A new palette of finishes will be introduced that provides a cohesive character to the lobby and will tie various modern elements together as a whole while complementing the historic character of the space. The interior design includes a multi-colored paint scheme, new carpet, decorative window treatments, drinking fountains, and signage. 

The proposed color scheme will highlight the classical forms and motifs of the original design and take cues from the pastel color palette of the Edward Fields rug found in the adjacent President General’s reception room. Overall this restoration will provide all the elements of a modern event venue within the beauty and sophistication of a nationally significant historic landmark.

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